Sunday, November 25, 2001

Strange Week of Football

This past week has been a strange one for football. First the Packers lose a game to the Falcons, at home, in which they were favored by 10 points. And to make matters worse, Leroy Butler was lost for the season. I was supposed to go to that game, but was unable to go as things turned out. Just as well. It would have been a terrible game to witness in person.

Then, after a short week, the Packers seemed to have everything together for a rare easy win at the Silverdome. And then, just as everyone was getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner, the Lions almost put together a miracle finish, but fell short on the final two point conversion. The Packers escaped with a 29-27 win, and their fans could finally enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, after what seemed like the longest closing minutes ever in a game.

Then came a Sunday of football with no Packer game, and no other games that mattered much to the Packers until the Sunday night game. (Needless to say, I watched the early games anyway.) The Sunday night game was the Bears at the Vikings. Given the way that the Vikings blew the Packers out in the dome, and then blew the Giants out there just last week, one would assume that the Vikings would continue their explosive ways. But wouldn't you just know it? The Vikings' offense turned anemic, just when the Packer fans needed a little help from the men in purple. So the Bears go to an 8-2 record, and it is time to realize that they must be for real. (The rematch between the Bears and the Packers in two weeks looks like it will be an enormously important game.) The only consolation from the Sunday night game is that it looks like the Vikings really are dead now. Their record is 4-6, and I imagine they will finish up with a record of about 6-10.

So what to make of the Packers? They started the year strong, but have faltered somewhat in the middle part of the season. They certainly do not look like the dominant team they were in 1996, for example. But they are still sitting at 7-3 and within striking distance of the division lead and a likely opening week playoff bye. The Atlanta game shows that there is really no game they can take for granted, including of course next week's Monday night game at Jacksonville. It would be nice if the Packers got it all together as the season winds to a close, in much the same way that the Ravens did last year. But right now, there is no strong evidence to suggest that this will happen.

This strange week of football will end with Monday night's Tampa Bay at St. Louis game. Personally, I am hoping the Buccaneers win it, because I am not all that worried about the Buccaneers now, and would rather see another loss for the Rams. But the way things have gone this week, the Rams will probably blow the Buccaneers out.

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