Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Quasi-Pessimists Guide to this Week's Packers Game

A couple of reasons to be worried about this weekend's Packers game:
  • The SI Jinx: 
The Packers made the cover with a headline that just screams "This headline is only days away from being irrelevant!" That's apparently the national edition too, not just the regional cover.

Don't not read the story, of course. There's some great details about Rodgers' demeanor in the locker room and his practice regimen.

Also a good sign: the story is almost entirely about Rodgers, but the cover clearly is not. There's a subtext to the story that suggests Rodgers may have had a big part in making that happen.
  • Bye Week Blues:
If you happened to have caught the Pats-Steelers game last week you may have heard Jim Nance and Phil Simms talk about Bill Belichick's analysis for why teams coming off their bye weeks were an awful 3-9 going into week 8: the short version was that they were gun shy -- they didn't tackle or hit very well and seemed too cautious bout making contact. Week 8 changed some of that, since teams coming off their bye weeks went 5-1 last week (that one loss going to, oddly enough, the Pats).

Perhaps anticipating this, Coach McCarthy had the team practicing in pads on Monday.
  • The Chargers are a Notoriously Late-blooming Team under Norv Turner:
They have terrible first halves of the season and then usually get hot in the second half. They're playing the defending champs at home, which would seem like no better catalyst to jump start a play-off run.
  • The Chargers Really Screwed the Proverbial Pooch last Week:
On an overtime fumbled snap deep in Chief's territory, no less. That's usually one of those things that gets good teams motivated to bounce back. I don't know if the Chargers are a good team this year, but it would suck if this was the week everyone found out that they are.

Neurotic worries aside, the Packers still look amazing. When the Packers have fell behind to Atlanta and Minnesota (both games on the road) it was because of fluke plays and not systemic deficiencies or massive performance gaps among the players. More importantly, they treated playing from behind more like a minor inconvenience rather than reason to panic. The Pack are clearly the superior team, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get off to a sluggish start in the first half and then blow the game wide open in the third quarter. So far this season no team has been better at adjusting it's game plan after halftime.

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