Thursday, September 18, 2003

Hottest Team in Football?

Wait - did you think I was talking about play of the Green Bay Packers? Actually, they might be the hottest team in football three days from now. The forecast for Phoenix Sunday afternoon is for a high temperature of 104 degrees. Of course, it is a dry heat.

Setting aside the weather forecast, the Packers have a long way to go before they can be considered the hottest team in football. Favre, in particular, looks like he is not in a groove yet. But the running game was working so well, and the defense played well enough to dominate the game against the Lions. So much so that, after about 10 minutes of the game, I had to remind myself that it was way too early to count the game in the win column.

It was good to see Antonio Freeman back on the field, and it was nice to see the warm welcome he got from the fans. Whatever his problems, and however much he has lost a step since 1996 and 1997, he was a big part of the reason that the Packers went to the Super Bowl those two years.

This week's game is one of those games that can turn into a nightmare. It is, as Wags [Ed. note - Wags was another columnist on the South End Zone web site at the time.] pointed out in his column, all too easy to take an opponent lightly. And if you wanted to take an opponent lightly, this would be a logical candidate. And the heat, dry heat or not, has to be debilitating on the players as the game goes on. So it is not too hard to envision a scenario where the team that is more used to playing in those conditions wears the other team down as the day goes on.

The good thing is that there is, as far as I can tell, no such thing as a home field advantage for the Arizona Cardinals. In last week's game, I read that there were 27,000 tickets sold, but maybe only 15,000 people present. This, in a stadium holding 72,000 people. For this week's game, I read somewhere that 55,000 tickets have been sold. Who knows how many will actually show up for a game with the temperature over 100 degrees, but it is a very safe assumption that the majority of people in the seats will be rooting for the good guys. I hope they have plenty to cheer about.

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