My 2009 Update
This item is also an old post from the Packfans listserv.
Ahhh...That feels better. The Packers win going away, in a game that was truly not as close as the final score might suggest. Astroturf curse: broken. Packers clinch a playoff berth with a week to go, making life more livable this coming week. The downfield passing game reappears, and as a result the offense is in control of the game, even if they might be accused of sitting on the lead a bit in the second half. Brett Favre is really turning into a treasure. Not only is he the third fastest (I think) to have thrown 100 TD passes, he is now a starting Pro Bowl QB, a legitimate MVP contender, and, according to ESPN, only the third (or was is 4th?) QB to throw 36 or more TDs in a season (the others were Marino and Tittle). Yes, I know. There is this little matter of winning a "big" game. Well, he gets some more opportunities to do that in the coming weeks.
The defense gave up more points than I would have liked to have seen, and this is a cause for concern going up against the "new" Steelers next week, not to mention it being a concern in the playoffs. It has been some time since the Packers just crushed someone on both sides of the ball, all game long (the 1994 Bears games are good examples). I wish they would do it again, say about 5 times, over the next few weeks.
Now for the playoff situation. Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Green Bay are in. As this is written (before the Monday night Minn at SF game), five teams are fighting it out for the last two playoff spots in the NFC: Detroit (9-6), Minnesota (8-6), Chicago (8-7), Atlanta (8-7) and St. Louis (7-8).
Any possibility of a bye for the Packers in the playoffs will disappear if SF beats Minnesota tonight. (Frankly, it ain't much of a possibility even if the Vikes manage to squeak by the Whiners.) If the Packers beat the Steelers, or if the Lions lose to Tampa Bay, the Packers are the NFCC Champs for the first time since 1972, and they will host a first round playoff game at Lambeau against the lowest-seeded wild card. If the Packers lose and the red-hot Lions win, then the Packers are a wild card and cannot host a playoff game, because either the Eagles or the Cowboys will end up as the No. 1 Wild Card (due to the Eagles' superior conference record and the Cowboys' win vs. the Packers). So unless I am missing something, the Packers need to win the division to host a first round game.
I think they can beat the Steelers. The Steelers are playing very well, but the Lambeau field advantage in December should be too much to overcome, even though cold weather is not a factor per se. Without Woodson (and perhaps even with him), the Steelers defensive backs can be beaten, and I am looking forward to Robert Brooks spending some time in the stands (without having to search for a friendly face). A win over the Steelers would not only clinch the division, it would go a long way toward proving that the Packers can win a game against a very good team.