Well, I think it’s safe to say that the dust from last Sunday’s Packers vs. Patriots game is finally starting to settle. I went on record stating that I believed the Packers could win the game, but as game time neared I found myself ready to pull out all of my “fan stops” to “help”. I debated Rodgers Jersey vs. Packers t shirt, I game planned my make-up routine, I drank Heineken solely because it was a green bottle, I chose to wear my beads around my neck instead of as a bracelet because the Packers tended to play better with that set up, I slept in my Cheesehead TV shirt the night before. I was “all in”. And I wasn’t the only one. My twitter feed was full of people in the same position, trying to figure out whatever small thing they could do to help the Packers overcome what seemed to be an insurmountable hurdle. I even received a picture from a dear friend decked out head to toe in Packers gear with the caption, “Every little bit helps.”
But all of our efforts fell short. Fell about 20 seconds short. But last week we were playing with house money. We win, great; we lose and we’re in the exact same position. It all comes down to the Giants. (yes we also have to beat the Bears, but can’t beat the Bears without beating the Giants first).
The Giants. A team that feels more “beatable” than the Patriots, but this game is a lot scarier. No house money on this one. Last week both teams could afford a loss. This week it’s a cage match to the death. Winner wins, loser crawls home trying to piece their life back together.
But this game is winnable for the Packers. Even more so than the Patriots game. Game in and game out, the Packers defense has been our bread and butter. They can do it. Not as much like last year with drive killing turnovers, but instead with complete suffocation. (okay maybe not complete, but it sounds nice). Yet, while this defense is keeping us in games, and in cases like the Jets game winning games for us, it still needs to step up. My mother used to tell me that there was no such thing as a dropped interception. My mother was wrong. And the Packers need to stop dropping those opportunities if they want to beat the Giants. Eli Manning is not Tom Brady. Not even close. Forget the arm, the winning percentage, Manning can get rattled and easily. The Packers need to rattle Manning and rattle him early. This means that our defense needs to find ways to pressure without Jenkins, and needs to shut down the wide receivers. With Smith out for the Giants, this task becomes easier, but simply shutting down production might not be enough. The Packers need to create and capitalize on turnovers.
The Packers also need to keep their defense well rested like they did in the Patriots game. We all love Rodgers and are thrilled that he is back, but quick scoring drives showcasing rainbow passes – while beautiful beyond words – will leave our defense without a chance to rest. Last week McCarthy proved his ability to adapt his game plan and really tailor an offense to the players and opponent. If the Packers want to win and see the playoffs the Packers must build off of the offensive momentum from the Patriots game. If they come out with a plan like the first half of the Lions game, I might have to hide under the covers. Much of our offensive production depends on the offensive line. Can the Packers protect Rodgers against the very strong Giants defensive front? The Eagles struggled to do so early in the game last week, but proved as the game wore on, keeping the Giants D on its heels and maintaining control of the line is the best way to move the ball against the Giants.
It’s not rocket science; it’s football. And it’s time to for the Packers to get on board or shut up. So everyone, players and fans who put every ounce of their being into last week’s game need to bring it again, and every Sunday here on out. Remember back to the disastrous NFC championship game in 2007, Green Bay affiliates refused to play Seinfeld because it’s Eli Manning’s favorite show. We need even more of that mentality this time around.
Is it silly to believe that all our costumes, game day rituals and prime time programming really help? Yes. But hey, I’m all in and if you are too, feel free to share any of your game day rituals or pics of game day attire. It’s do or die. It’ll be the day after Christmas and we’re going to need all the help we can get.
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