It's only pre-season. I know. They only had one day of practice between the Denver and Miami games. I know that, too. And I could not see the Miami game, so it is a little tough to make very much out of a game I did not see.
But try as I might, I just can't find any reason to feel overly optimistic about the upcoming season at the moment. From what I have seen of the Packers in the pre-season, they are just way too sloppy. Mistakes, turnovers, and penalties. Oh, sure, the Packers will probably be contenders, no matter what. As long as Favre stays healthy, they will win enough games to be in the hunt by the end of the season. And if they straighten things out, maybe that will even turn out to be good enough.
The trouble is, my expectations are so much higher now, and for the last couple of years. I desperately don't want them to stumble out of the gate with a 2-3 or 3-2 record after 5 weeks, looking up at Tampa Bay or Minnesota in the standings. I want to see the Packers just switch it on and start blowing people out, like they did in 1996. We'll see. Maybe these guys are such old veterans that they can just turn it on when needed. The return of Robert Brooks (assuming that he does play in the opener) will certainly help. And now the Packers and Dorsey Levens have some kind of a deal done. His return will help, too, although it seems questionable whether he will play immediately.
The end of a three game losing streak is probably a bad time to pull out the regular season schedule to count up the predicted "Ws" and "Ls," but here goes. I end up with a prediction of 11-5. I have an uncomfortable feeling that the home win streak is going to come to an end this year. In fact, based on the pre-season showing, I can see the Packers losing a couple of games at home this year. If that happens (which I hope it does not), my guess would be that they lose one of the first two weeks (Detroit and Tampa Bay). Probably the Tampa Bay game. And then, and I really hate to say this, but I have a bad feeling about the San Francisco game on November 1.
On the road, I can see losses at Detroit, at Pittsburgh and at Minnesota. That would fill out a 6-2 record at home, 5-3 on the road, for a total of 11-5. Good enough to make the playoffs, maybe good enough to win the division, definitely not good enough to win home field advantage. Good enough to go the Super Bowl and to win it? The truth is, you just can't tell right now. It all depends on momentum and talent at the end of the year, with the extent of injuries and depth figuring into the mix. The Packers might be the best team in the league come playoff time.
Unfortunately, they sure don't look like it right now.
Around the NFC North: Week 8
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