5

January

Who Do We Want? Ranking The Green Bay Packers’ Potential Playoff Opponents

As the wise philosopher Homer Simpson once declared, “The waiting game sucks! Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!”

That’s the dilemma facing the Green Bay Packers this week as they wait out their first round bye and for their opponent in the divisional round to be determined.  While it’s doubtful the Packers are playing children’s board games in the locker room (well, maybe), we fans can play the wishing game and debate for hours on end who we want to see the Packers play in their first home playoff game since the 2007-2008 season.

(Be sure to cast your vote in the Poll at the end of this post)

The Packers can face one of three teams: the New York Giants, the Detroit Lions or the Atlanta Falcons.  Should Detroit upset the New Orleans Saints the Lions come to Lambeau.  Should the Saints hold on, the winner of Falcons/Giants would get the defending champions next.

So who would be the best matchup for the Packers? Honestly, an argument could be made for all three.  The Packers played (and beat) all three during the regular season, and defeated the Lions twice.  So familiarity with the opponent will be an advantage regardless.

I’ve decided to rank the three from the best matchup to the worst.  This is by no means a rock solid list.  I tossed all sorts of different variations in my head but I finally settled on the order below.

1.       Atlanta Falcons They’re number one for a couple reasons.  First, they are a dome team.  So are the Lions, yes, but at least Detroit’s climate is very similar to Green Bay’s.  Atlanta’s meanwhile, despite the occasional snow storm, is a much warmer climate. Even though they play indoors, they still don’t commute to work and live in this weather like the Packers, Lions and Giants do.

 A second reason is that for whatever reason, the Packers seem to have the Falcons’ number.  After beating the Packers at home during the 2010 regular season, the Falcons got spanked by the same team in the divisional round last year.  This year, again at the Georgia Dome, the Packers beat Atlanta again 25-14 after the Falcons blew a 14-3 lead.

21

December

Packers Dominate Fan Voting for 2012 Pro Bowl

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers led all vote getters in the Pro Bowl's fan voting.

Packers fans, your voice has been heard.

Nine Green Bay Packers lead their respective positions in total fan votes for the 2012 Pro Bowl, which clears the first of three hurdles in the NFL’s process to select each conference’s 43-man roster. Fan voting consists of one-third of the consensus, with players and coaches each counting for a third. Fan voting ended this week.

The following Packers led their respective position: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (1,581, 982 votes), fullback John Kuhn (322,260), left tackle Chad Clifton (392, 106), guard T.J. Lang (327,740), center Scott Wells (463,693), cornerback Charles Woodson (763,198), safety Morgan Burnett (223,292), kicker Mason Crosby (184,665) and special teamer Jarrett Bush (134,696).

Rodgers led all vote getters with 1,581,982 votes. He leads the NFL in passing touchdowns and passer rating this season.

The Packers led all NFL teams with nine top vote getters, with the Baltimore Ravens (six) and New England Patriots (five) the next two closest teams.

NFL players and coaches submit their votes on December 21-22, and NFL Network will air the 2012 Pro Bowl selections next Tuesday, December 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Pro Bowl will be played on January 29, 2012, a week before Super Bowl XLVI.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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8

December

All Aboard! Why I Will Never Again Underestimate These Green Bay Packers

Crow.  It tastes like chicken.

Or maybe bratwurst?

Anyway, as has now been logged for posterity on this fine website, last week I thought the Packers would go down 28-24 to the Giants and thus ending their 17 game winning streak dating back to last season. The final score was close (38-35) but the outcome was reverse as the Packers won in thrilling, last minute fashion.

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever been happier to be wrong.

More importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson as I wipe egg off my face: I believe in the 2011 Green Bay Packers.  The team had not been tested quite like this and the way Aaron Rodgers imposed his will on that final drive against a good but wounded Giants defense opened my eyes as wide as saucers.

I had a fair amount of doubts that this team could go the distance due to a leaky defense and with injuries affecting the linebacking position.  I thought the law of averages would catch up with Rodgers and the offense would finally struggle.

Shame on me.  In hindsight, I made the fatal mistake of underestimating Rodgers and he made me pay for it.   I thought someday he could be stopped.  Not anymore. This offense is a juggernaut and the man at the controls won’t yield to anyone, so pedestrians had better get the hell out of the way.

To be clear, I was never “off” the Packers bandwagon so please don’t view this as me jumping back onto it.  I knew this team was great.  I had the utmost confidence in Rodgers and company to deliver when the chips were down.

Perhaps I was a bit more hardened than I thought, seeing good-to-great Packers teams  of the past flame out in big games and having the season go to waste. This had come to define the Mike Sherman era and though Mike McCarthy has a ring, it’s hard to kick the memories of those teams in the 2000s. I thought maybe we were seeing history repeat itself in the 21st century’s second decade.

Nope. Not with this team and especially not with this quarterback.

At a time when Rodgers was unbelievably facing criticism for his “lack” of fourth quarter comebacks (mainly one idiot who is on a network that starts with E and ends with SPN), the soon-to-be NFL MVP basically went “OK, watch this,” and ripped apart the Giants secondary so bad some probably crawled back crying to their mothers.

8

September

2011 NFL Week One: Packers vs Saints Preview: The Saints Go Marching In….And Crawling Back Out

Absurdly long lockout: over.

An abbreviated free agency period: completed.

A preseason that dragged on longer than War and Peace: finished

It is time.  IT. IS. TIME……for Green Bay Packers regular season football.

The last time the Packers played a game of any meaning was that game against the Steelers in February.  For just over seven months, the Packers have been the reigning Super Bowl champions.

After the opening kickoff against the New Orleans Saints on national television, the reigning ends and the defending begins. It has been said by players on teams lucky enough to win back-to-back Super Bowls that the only thing tougher than chasing the crown is defending it.

The Packers’ opponent ought to know.

Last season, the then-defending champion Saints got off to a sluggish 4-3 start and never were able to catch the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South title.  Instead they had to settle for a wild card and a trip to the 7-9 NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks where they were defeated 41-36 and done in by a bruising Marshawn Lynch touchdown run.

Like the Packers’ Super Bowl triumph, the disappointing end to the Saints’ season is a thing of the past.  The slate is clean and everyone for one week has the same record.

Let’s take a look at New Orleans.

Breaking down the Saints

As defending champions, the Packers don’t ease into their regular season schedule.  Instead they face team they could very well meet again in January for a trip to Super Bowl XLVI.

When discussing the New Orleans Saints, you have to begin with Drew Brees.  The calm and cool leader of the Saints offense is one of the most lethal quarterbacks in the game.  He isn’t as mobile as the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers but he is about as accurate and throws a pretty good deep ball.

While he doesn’t have the buffet of weapons that Rodgers does in the receiving corps, Brees still has chemistry with his playmakers.  With Marques Colston leading the way and Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem on the other side, Brees has a variety of targets to choose from.  With a creative play caller in head coach Sean Payton, the Saints passing attack rivals the Packers in terms of overall deadliness.  Throw in new stud TE Jimmy Graham and it’s almost like a mirror image of the Packers.