I remember the feeling I got after the NFL Draft this past April. I felt really good about this draft class; I thought they could contribute right away and we could make a real run at another Super Bowl title.
I could never have foreseen the season coming down to a week-to-week prayer – not with all the talent on this team. I guess I underestimated the power that Aaron Rodgers has on offense, defense and special teams. I guess I underestimated the power of injuries.
Well, no matter the expectation, the season has come down to this: week-in and week-out, it’s a must-win. I think the Packers are so used to being in charge of their own fate around playoff time, it’s difficult to accept that even if we win out, we still may miss the playoffs. We need a lot of help, as it stands. Who would have guessed that the Detroit Lions would be in the driver’s seat in this division?
Not me … never me.
It all comes down to this week at Dallas.
And thanks to our good friends, the Chicago Bears: the Cowboys will be coming into this game champing at the bit. They were publicly embarrassed this past Monday night, much like the Packers were on Thanksgiving. That always gives a team a little extra motivation to win the next Sunday. It doesn’t help that the playoffs are right around the corner and the Eagles are beginning to run away with the NFC East. “America’s Team” needs a win … and so do the Green Bay Packers.
Without a win this Sunday, the Packers playoff hopes are all but dead. Everyone knows it.
However, news wasn’t good this week as initial reports stated that Aaron Rodgers is still not medically cleared to play in Dallas. Last week was Rodgers’ estimated timeline of return. Things are looking bleak now for the seventh straight week. It’s beginning to look a lot like a season-ending injury; and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Earlier in the season, I wouldn’t have fretted going into Dallas, hosting Pittsburgh and travelling to Chicago with Flynn under center. Those three teams were ailing on defense … and I do mean ailing. A high school freshman could have probably shredded those aging DBs. But as the season has progressed, as with every NFL season, teams have been pulling out of their funks and righting the ship. Unfortunately, the reverse is true of the Packers, especially due to the rash of significant injuries sustained thus far. So, with the season on the line, do we trust Matt Flynn in Dallas?
Josh McCown put on a clinic Monday night against the Cowboys. They scored on every single possession … never having to punt. That would be really nice to see this Sunday. But, not so fast. Our beat-up offensive line hasn’t been able to stop anybody as of late. Even if we did trust in Flynn’s arm and vision, could the line even give him ample time to make plays? I’m not so sure.
Now Eddie Lacy is battling a sprained ankle. Sure, he played through it the second half against Atlanta, but is it worth further injury? Without Lacy, will the Cowboys fear Flynn or Starks?
ll offensive woes aside, the defense has been steadily decreasing down the NFL ranks, week after week, in nearly every category. We can’t stop the run, we can’t get to the quarterback and we can’t defense a pass. With a threat like Jason Witten and Dez Bryant lurking in the backfield, Tony Romo could have a monster day. We need the defense to step up and play like the season depends on it.
It does … every game, it does.
The Packers proved last week that they can win games without Rodgers. Let’s continue down that path. Let’s give him time to heal up completely by making his appearance less important until the playoffs. Flynn can take the reins and make magic happen, but the offense and defense need to play for him. I’d like to see “Big D” look more like a lower case “d” on Sunday. Just taking it one game at a time seems to be an approach that is starting to work. First Dallas, then we will worry about the Steelers, at home.
Let’s just get out of Dallas with a W. What an amazing story it would be if the Packers were Super Bowl Champions at the end of this demoralizing season. It starts here.