Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm a Believer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Remember the old Neil Diamond song, originally performed by The Monkees, "I'm a Believer?" Yes, I know, I am dating myself, and lots of readers are probably saying "You mean the song by Smash Mouth and Eddie Murphy in Shrek?" The truth is, I didn't realize it was written by Neil Diamond until I looked it up, but in my mind, it is definitely a Monkees song. Anyway, I am getting to be a believer in the Green Bay Packers. It was only a few weeks ago that I called them the worst 5-1 team in the league. But since my last column, they finished off their road trip by winning at Kansas City, even if the game was closer than the score, and then they absolutely whacked the Minnesota Vikings, 34-0.

Now everybody knows that a game can get out of hand, and that the Packers are not 34 points better than the Vikings. But that was a pretty dominating win, on both sides of the ball, from the start to the finish. When the Packers control the ball for 41 minutes, when they become the first team all year to run for over 100 yards against the Vikings, and when Favre completes passes to 10 different receivers, you know they must be doing something right. And to see the Packers being aggressive well into the 4th quarter, in fact throwing the final touchdown pass with 6 minutes left in the game, is gratifying after watching them let the game slip away against the Bears in week 5.

So now is when things get interesting. The Packers are heavy favorites over the Panthers, raising the specter of a possible "trap" game for the Packers, what with huge games against the Lions and the Cowboys coming up in the next 11 days. Even though Brad Hoover is still with the Panthers, and is evidently the starting fullback, I still think the Packers will be OK. The novelty factor of the game is that there are 82 years' worth of starting quarterbacks on the field, what with Vinny Testaverde starting for the injured David Carr. When Favre was asked why Vinny would come back to play at his age, Favre said "must be the love of the game, or he's broke, one of the two." And for Favre, this is one of the rare instances in recent years when he is not the oldest starting quarterback in the game.

It seems like a lot to ask for the Packers to win today against
Carolina, and then to complete another 2-game road sweep against the Lions and the Cowboys. If I had to guess, I would guess that they will lose one of those games (probably, unfortunately, against the Cowboys). But, as the cliché goes, they just have to play them one game at a time.

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After mentioning in my last column that my recording of the Monday night Denver game got messed up, three readers volunteered to send me a copy. Wisconsin reader Tim Shea was the first to volunteer, followed quickly by another Wisconsin reader, John Daley, and, get this, a reader in
Brazil, Bruno Siqueira. Bruno is not a transplant from Wisconsin, in fact he has never been to the U.S., but he is still a Packers fan. Que homem! Vão Os Packers! Anyway, I took Tim up on his offer to send a DVD, since he was first, but I want to thank Tim, John, and Bruno for their prompt and generous offers.

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