The Green Bay Packers went to the “Show Me” state and took care of business yesterday in rather convincing fashion. They took the Rams’ best punch early then poured it on late. The game was never really in doubt even though the team still has some problem areas. The offensive line was only marginally better against the Rams and the run defense gave up another 100-yard day to Steven Jackson. Heading to the House of Horrors in Minneapolis the Packers will need to improve greatly next Monday night in both areas to beat their arch rivals.
Had the Packers went to St. Louis and struggled to win a close game I would have had serious doubts about their chances in Minnehaha. The fact that they were able to put the loss to my team of destiny – the Cincinnati Bengals, behind them and focus on the Rams without looking ahead to the Vikings bodes well in my book. I think the Packers will try to use the same strategy on offense against the Vikings that they did against the Rams, which was to try and exploit a suspect secondary with the vertical passing game. Against the Rams it was like the other Al Davis was calling plays as the Packers went deep often and burned the Rams with big plays. If they can give Aaron Rodgers the time they should be able to do the same Monday night.
Obviously it is hard to look back at the Rams game with what is facing the Packers a week from tonight, so I won’t even bother. The Packers turned their attention to the Vikings walking off the field yesterday, and getting fired up for this game shouldn’t require many pep talks. For the Packers it is all about getting a win and taking over first place in the division, for the Vikings it all about revenge, at least for one player it is. Of course it should be all about revenge for all the Vikings’ players because since taking over as head coach Mike McCarthy has owned the Vikings, going 5-1 against them his first three years with the only loss coming when Mason Crosby missed a game-winner with 20 seconds left last year.
Everything begins and ends with Adrian Peterson and the Vikings’ defensive line and nothing changed with the addition of Brett Favre. In fact Favre is probably the least of the Packers’ worries as they know him better than he knows himself. McCarthy is the only reason Favre is still playing football today as he was able to take the gunslinger out of Favre and get him to play within his declining skills. The problem was those declining skills were grotesquely on display late in the year and especially in the playoffs, hence the move to Rodgers. Favre’s desire for revenge however, does have him playing with an energy that was never on display last in New York but it is an energy the Packers should be counting on when they face him for the first time. We’ve all seen first-hand how Favre plays when the stakes are high and you can bet McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers are licking their chops.
I expect Capers to pull out all stops, every scheme they worked on in the offseason may come out Monday night. Favre won’t have a clue where the blitz is coming from and the 3-4 has always been a problem for #4. Having Peterson makes things a lot easier for any QB but there will be times that the Packers will have their shot at Favre and it’s going to be fun to watch. If the Packers can contain Peterson and force Favre into passing another 46 times this week the Packers will have them right where they want them.
It will be a fun week, I can’t wait for Favre’s lies during his conference call with local reporters this week, that will be Comedy Central material right next to his contrived first retirement presser. McCarthy was upfront about the situation today admitting this game is lot bigger than any normal regular season game. Give him credit for not using the “it is just another game” cliche. Stay tuned. It’s Super Bowl week in the fall, and TV ratings will probably reflect that next Monday. I like our chances. In fact, I love them.