Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thursday Night Preview

My handful of readers might be wondering where I have been.  We have been travelling out of the country for almost a month.  We were able to watch most of the Rams game online, but could not find a video feed of either the Patriots or Dolphins game.  I was able to listen to the Patriots game on the Packers Radio Network in the middle of the night, but for some reason could  not get through on the Dolphins game and had to rely on the written play-by-play online.  These are not ideal ways to follow games, to say the least, and don't allow me to comment meaningfully on either game.  We just got back in the country yesterday, and I haven't been able to watch the prior games yet, but the good news is, I only have to wait until Thursday night for a real, live Packers game!

Seattle and Green Bay is not a natural rivalry.  For most of their early history, the Seahawks weren't even in the NFC.  But since around 2000, this has become the kind of rivalry where a single phrase is all it takes to bring back vivid memories.  The "Al Harris pick 6 game," also known as the Matt Hasselbeck "We want the ball, and we're going to score" game (January 4, 2004).  The "Seattle Snow Globe" game, also known as the "Ryan Grant redemption" game, also known as Favre's last win as a Packers player (January 12, 2008).  The "Fail Mary" game, also known as the "Replacement Ref" game (September 24, 2012).  And of course, the "Colossal Collapse" NFC Championship Game (January 18, 2015).  Not to mention Mike Holmgren's return to Lambeau as the Seahawks coach, a game in which, as I recall, Holmgren had to go to the Packers' locker room to console Brett Favre after his 4-interception performance (November 1, 1999). 

Thursday's game is actually a big game for both teams.  The Seahawks aren't about to catch the Rams (9-1) with their 4-5 record.  But they are certainly in the Wild Card hunt (the Wild Cards, "if the season ended today," would be the 6-3 Panthers and the 5-3-1 Vikings).  But a loss to the Packers will be a serious blow to those hopes.

For the Packers, at 4-4-1, they are not only in contention for a Wild Card spot, but the division is not out of the question, if the Bears stumble and the Packers go on enough of a winning streak to pass the Vikings and catch the Bears.  Those of you who saw the last two games are in a better position to judge than I am whether the Packers are actually capable of going on a winning streak.  But I heard an intriguing statistic on Good Morning Football today: when Aaron Rodgers throws for less than 200 passing yards (as he did Sunday against the Dolphins), the Packers have a very high winning percentage.  All of which suggests that a strong running game (think of some of the early Eddie Lacy years) are a large component of a winning game strategy for the Packers.  I may not have seen the Dolphins game, but I know that Aaron Jones finally was the feature running back, and rushed for 145 yards, with an average gain per run of almost 10 yards.  Some combination of the departure of Ty Montgomery, plus the idea finally getting through Mike McCarthy's stubborn skull, resulted in Aaron Jones playing the role the rest of us thought he should all year long.  I don't think it is too strong to say, as some articles have this week, that Aaron Jones is the key to the Packers making the playoffs.  I look forward to a win Thursday night and a run for the playoffs.

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