Packer fans can be the best at holding grudges. The numbers 4th and 26 make people cringe, and the phrase, “Jerry Rice fumbled” is still yelled at the TV. Playoff losses are some of the toughest losses to overcome. The season ends, fans and players go home simply to sit and think about all the things that went wrong.
Twice in recent memory the New York Giants have stamped the Packers ticket home. Last season the Packers welcomed the Giants to Lambeau in the second round of the playoffs in what many hoped would be a sweet revenge match, a chance to live down the horror of the 2007 NFC Championship game.
But revenge did not prevail. The Giants walked into Lambeau and flattened the Packers. The Packers turned the ball over four times that day, fell victim to a long touchdown pass to end the half, and Aaron Rodgers completed only 26 of his 46 passes.
The score shows the Packers losing by 17 but it was much more than that. The Packers were not only defeated, they were deflated.
Next Sunday the Packers once will once again face the Giants. A team coming off a bye and a deflating loss of their own against the Cincinnati Bengals; the Giants will be looking to use the game as a vehicle to get their season back on track.
The Giants need this game. The NFC East is a division filled with talented teams that have failed to perform on a consistent basis. With a one game differential between each of the four teams, every game matters to them. The Giants could use a victory over the streaking Packers to establish dominance in a division devoid of anything resembling a leader.
The Packers on the other hand now find themselves in the top spot of the NFC North, climbing from last to first through their five game winning streak. The Packers don’t “need” this game in the same way the Giants do, but they still need it.
The Packers, while winning, have not instilled confidence with their victories. While the Packers are playing through injuries and a slumping kicker, the Packers have failed on many occasions to crush their opponents.
The Lions offense looked weak last Sunday. Tony Scheffler was targeted 10 times on Sunday and caught only two passes. Starting wide out, Titus Young – targeted 6 times with 1 catch – was promptly suspended by the Lions following the game.
When your opponent has those kinds of stats on their offense, the game should be won easily. But it wasn’t. The Packers got the go ahead score with two minutes left in the game and needed a defensive stand to ensure the win.
Since playing the Texans and starting this five game win streak the Packers have played weaker opponents and played weaker themselves. While the Packers don’t need this game to turn their season around, the Packers need this game to finally assert their dominance.
If the Packers go into New York and play the Giants like they played the Texans, the Packers will finally look like one of the top teams in the NFL. The Packers need to not only win on Sunday, they need to do it with style. Creating turnovers, continuing to develop the running game, having receivers catch the ball and accurately run their routes, all keys to a convincing win. And perhaps even, a field goal or two made.
The Packers are starting to get healthier, and the teams in their division appear to be collapsing around them. A strong performance and win and Sunday would go a long way in dealing a knockout blow to the rest of the NFC North and NFL, and the ride to the playoffs could become much easier.
The game isn’t a “must win”, but the Packers need a game to finally become the team many hope they can be, and this Sunday’s game will be the perfect opportunity to do so. It wouldn't be just revenge, it would be a statement game on the Packers season.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at PackersTalk.com. She also contributes to Pocketdoppler.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1.