Every year since Corey and I started this website I have offered up a prediction from the heart and a prediction from the head for the upcoming Packers season. And as pundits nationwide have made their picks, I guess its time for me to make mine.
Heart: 13-3 - Super Bowl Champs
Head: 10-6 - Loss In Divisional Round of Playoffs
Look, I've tried. I really have. I've tried to be optimistic about the draft and develop philosophy. I've tried to get on board the "McCarthy is finally going to do something about the running game because, well, because Eddie Lacy!" train.
But I keep coming back to how this team, Ted and Mike's team, tends to crumble against better competition - and there's a lot more of that on tap in the Packers' 2013 schedule than there has been the last few years. San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore (yes, they are better than they looked Thursday night), Minnesota, the Giants, Detroit (on Thanksgiving), Dallas and Chicago. That's a murderers row of quality opponents that the Packers have to face on the road. Throw in NFC favorite Atlanta and what I tend to think will be a resurgent Steelers team and, well, you've got a lot of quality competition on tap for the Packers to face in 2013.
Now, don't get me wrong. The Packers are a damn fine football team, and more than half the league's fans would probably trade places with Packers fans in a heart beat. There is quality talent all over the depth chart (no matter how badly cow42 wants you to believe otherwise) and this is a team that can hang with any one of the teams listed above.
Playing well at the right time, late in the year, combined with a bit of luck, tends to be the surest way of ensuring you have a chance at getting to the Super Bowl. The last three Super Bowl champs didn't even look that hot heading into the playoffs, but all three of them played well enough to get there and win it by elevating their play when they needed it most.
Can Mike McCarthy's club replicate the run they made in 2010? Of course they can. Much will happen between now and the playoffs. Remember as you watch September, October and November come and go that all those ups and downs are only setting the stage for December.
Remember how horrible you felt when the Packers lost to the lowly Lions, Aaron Rodgers having exited early with a concussion. Remember that? Remember how it felt like the whole world was collapsing and that the time had finally come to fire McCarthy? (Not that I was quite there. I was in full-on "let the season play out" mode)
And then McCarthy's men went on to win the Super Bowl.
No, I don't see it happening again in 2013. But could it? Absolutely.
That's what my heart tells me anyway.