Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bye Week Blues? No, Bye Week Bonus!

As much as the Packers may have needed a bye week to have a chance to get healthy, their fans usually don't look forward to the bye week.  Sure, you can watch other NFL games, or clean out your garage, or catch up on some paperwork or whatever.  But usually it is a letdown, a lost Sunday right in the middle of the football season.

Going into the weekend, the Packers were on a four game winning streak, with a 6-3 record, sitting in second place in the division.  "If the playoffs started today," as they say, the Packers would be a wild card, and the 5th seed, looking up at the four division leaders.  So what happened to those four division leaders?  The number one seed Falcons, previously 8-0, went out and lost to the New Orleans Saints, despite having a couple of opportunities in the closing minutes to take the lead.  The Saints had an impressive goal line stand in the final two minutes of the game to preserve the win.

The 7-1 Chicago Bears were the number 2 seed, and led the Packers by a game and a half.  But a sloppy weather game in Chicago, and a concussion for Jay Cutler, was all it took for them to lose their second game, to the Texans.  Truth be told, they didn't look that good even before Cutler got knocked out, having scored only 3 points in the first half with Cutler at the helm.

The 6-3 New York Giants not only lost their game to the Bengals, but they looked pretty bad in the process.  They gave up big plays on defense, turned over the ball 4 times on offense, and didn't look very good on special teams, either.

The 49ers started the day at 6-2, and because they opened the season by beating the Packers, they would win any head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers.  They battled the Rams to a 24-24 tie.  This was heartbreaking for the Rams, since they gave up several opportunities to win the game in overtime alone, on devastating penalties.  The good news about the 49ers ending up in a tie is that it makes it highly unlikely that the Packers and 49ers will end up in a head-to-head tie at the end of the year.

So the Packers picked up ground on every NFC team that was ahead of them in the playoff race.  Not a bad days' work for a bunch of guys sitting on the couch watching TV.  As a result, the Packers now control almost all aspects of their 2012 destiny.  If they just keep winning, they will win the NFC North, and start the playoffs with a home playoff game.  For a team that, a month ago, was at 2-3 and heading off to face the unbeaten Texans, that is pretty good.