34 degrees with snow is a bitter cold afternoon. For the Green Bay Packers, a loss would make the day more chilling and the possibility of a playoff birth in the NFC will be all but mathematically over. This is the game that matters most to the Packers. It’s the first “must win” of the season.
A quick hop over the Western border is why this game becomes so important. With the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears battling it out for first place, a loss by the Packers will put them 2 game behind the division leader. At 5-6 and 3 games back in the wildcard chase, the only real hope is for a division win.
Carolina is one of the strongest teams in the NFC, however they can also play streaky as evidenced by their loss to the Falcons last weekend. The Packers will try and force the Panthers to beat them in the air by trying to stop the feet of DeAngelo Williams and returning rookie Jonathan Stewart.
Taking away the running game of the Panthers will be key to allowing the Packers to get pressure on Jake Delhomme who can become increasingly erratic at times and if that happens, the leagues top scoring defense could pad their stats.
If there is good news for the Packers it’s that they have a 3-1 inter-division record and having already split with the 2-2 division record Minnesota Vikings. A loss by the Vikings this week would drop them into a second place tie with the Pack, provided of course that the team wins. That would set up a December 22, showdown with Chicago at Soldier Field. The Bears have a 3-1 record as well and for now, the Packers own that head to head match-up.
The Packers in essence, even at 5-6 almost control their own destiny. One loss by the Vikings and it becomes the Packers division to lose. One loss by the Packers, and they can almost start looking towards next year…almost.