Did you know that the Packers are undefeated and haven't lost since December 19, 2010?
Did you know that Aaron Rodgers is having, like, a really good year?
Did you know that Charles Woodson
is an overrated route jumper thinks the Packers can go undefeated this year?
Did you know that Clay Matthews is some sort of superhuman combination of Lawrence Taylor and Ronnie Lott and can tackle people with his long, luxurious hair?
Did you know that Jermichael Finley is already ten times more of a tight end than Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, and Antonio Gates ever were and that's why he's going to apply as a wide receiver in free agency?
Did you know that the Vikings should just consider themselves lucky to be on the same field with such infallible greatness on the national stage of Monday Night Football?
Can you tell that I'm really, really, really sick of hearing about how awesome the Packers are? Good, I'm glad I was able to get my point across. Yes, I know they have a pretty darn good team over in Green Bay this year. As much as I hate to give credit where credit's due in this case, I have to here. It's really hard to argue that there's a better team in the NFL right now.
Right now. If the NFL has taught us anything this year (or any other year, really), it's that a lot can change in just a few short weeks. The Chargers had an uncharacteristically good 4-1 start; they're now mired at .500 and can't seem to get out of their own way. The Patriots were the class of the AFC in October; they're now trying to avoid their third straight loss on the road against a tough division opponent. The Eagles looked to have righted the ship after a rough 1-4 start; they're now in last place in their division after losing at home to the Bears.
I'm not saying the Packers will stumble as much as those three contenders, but to paraphrase Denny Green, we probably shouldn't crown their rear ends just yet. I'm realistic--I know that the Packers have a better team than the Vikings right now. But this "juggernaut" still has some flaws. They're beatable, I swear. Let's take a look at how Goliath can be taken down (slingshot not included).
Defense. I know it's blasphemous to question the super-genius that is Dom Capers. It's been said that his 3-4 blitz packages can break the laws of quantum physics. Legend has it that a Dom Capers defense can sack the quarterback even when all eleven defenders drop into coverage. ON A RUSHING PLAY. But let's face it--this year's Packers defense ain't very good. Green Bay has allowed over 400 yards in five of their eight contests, including 435 to the Vikings in Week 7. That's the only time Minnesota has had over 400 yards of offense all year. If the Packers think they can just outscore teams all the way to the championship, I'll just kindly point you in the direction of the 2007 Patriots. If you can't stop anybody, it's going to catch up with you, especially later in the year.
Pressure. Speaking of those 2007 Patriots, the media is already starting their ramp up the inevitable "can the Packers go undefeated?" stories. If they blow out the Vikings on Monday night, nobody will bat an eyelash. They're supposed to beat up on a 2-6 team when they're favored at home by two touchdowns. But if the Vikes keep it close down the stretch, people are going to wonder what's wrong with the almighty Pack. The scrutiny is only going to intensify with each passing game; heck, even some Packers fans are beginning to get critical of the flaws in their undefeated team. Green Bay snuck up on everyone in 2010 and stomped their way through the playoffs with little pressure as the #6 seed. How will they react this year with a giant bulls eye on their backs?
Injuries. Disclaimer: as much as I loathe Green Bay, its players, and its fans, let me make it clear that I do NOT root for this one. But it happens in the NFL. What if someone gives Aaron Rodgers' knee a Discount Double Check? Poof! There goes your dream season. What if Charles Woodson gets an injury like he suffered in the Super Bowl last year and misses more than just a half of football this time around? Ruh roh--your already suspect defense just got weaker. I know the Pack dealt with all sorts of injuries last year and still won it all, but any injury to a key player will always level the playing field.
A team having "one of those games". When you're playing Madden, Bill Simmons likes to call this the "No Effing Way" Game, as in the computer randomly decides that there's no effing way that you're winning this game. Every great play is called back by a phantom holding penalty. Every spin move results in a fumble. Every long pass by the opposition is caught even though you time the deflection perfectly with your defender. Those kinds of games happen in real life too. It's not inconceivable to think that could happen for the Vikings this week. Let's say Adrian Peterson goes into full-on "I dare you to tackle me" mode. Let's say Christian Ponder comes out firing fresh off the bye with two weeks to pick apart the Packers on film. Let's say Aaron Rodgers plays just "OK" instead of his usual "OMG". Let's say Jared Allen has a game that rivals his 2009 visit to Lambeau. And let's say the much-needed return of Antoine Winfield is just enough to slow down the likes of Jennings & company.
It could happen, right? I'm not going to actually pick the Vikings to win this week, but I wouldn't be completely shocked if they did.
Maybe I'd pick the upset if this wasn't a nationally televised game. Like I said in the comment threads and on Twitter after the debacle in Chicago, putting the Vikings on national TV is like throwing a Gremlin into a brightly lit pool after midnight with food in both of its hands. In other words, our Beloved Purple haven't exactly fared the best on the national stage over the past few years outside of that bizarre Tuesday night game in Philly. I don't see this game getting as out of hand as it did in Chicago, but I just don't think we can keep up with Green Bay's firepower yet.
Let's hope that I'm wrong and the Vikings leave the fans at Lambeau saying "no effing way".
Prediction: Packers 34, Vikings 24
And now for the rest of My Week 10 NFL picks (still guaranteed to be mediocre or your money back; home teams in ALL CAPS):
CHARGERS over Raiders: Whee! Thursday Night Football has started! Prepare to live in fear of forgetting to submit your NFL picks or change your fantasy lineup on time for the remainder of the season!
FALCONS over Saints: Atlanta is good at home, New Orleans has struggled on the road. Sometimes I just skip over the jokes and go straight for the facts. (Not very often of course.)
COWBOYS over Bills: I think Buffalo will get caught looking ahead to that tough road game in Miami next week.
Steelers over BENGALS: Cincy has been a huge surprise this season, but the six teams they've beaten have a cumulative record of 16-33. Let's see how they do against a very angry Pittsburgh team before we start printing playoff tickets.
Rams over BROWNS: Peyton Hillis got the Madden Curse really bad this year--not only did it injure him, but it apparently turned him into a complete a-hole. I can't pick a team that openly hates its only viable offensive weapon.
CHIEFS over Broncos: It makes me sick that this game actually has playoff implications. Let's just stop there and feel better with the Gratuitous Picture of the Week!
PANTHERS over Titans: Chris Johnson's team is dead last in the NFL in rushing. Remember when some people considered him better than Adrian Peterson? Seems like eons ago now.
COLTS over Jaguars: Hey, I have to keep my picks hovering around .500 every week somehow.
DOLPHINS over Redskins: I dropped Ryan Torain and picked up Roy Helu for one of my fantasy teams this week. Therefore, I'd like to congratulate Torain in advance for his 150-yard game just because of the Shanahanigans that the Redskins coach pulls with fantasy owners every week.
EAGLES over Cardinals: My Survivor Pool pick of the week, now 8-1 after the Texans housed the Browns last week. I'm shocked that Kevin Kolb isn't trying harder to get back on the field play against his old team considering all the success he's enjoyed so far in Arizona.
Texans over BUCCANEERS: The Bucs were so desperate for defensive line help that they signed Albert Haynesworth this week. It's the kind of desperation that makes it seem OK to take home a girl from a bar because "her Adam's Apple wasn't that noticeable". There's no way this ends well for all parties involved.
Giants over 49ERS: So with Peyton out, that means that Eli gets to use all of the Manning family powers, right? Because that's the only way I can explain Eli's stellar play this year.
Patriots over JETS: I just heard that Rex Ryan is going to be in the next Adam Sandler movie. It's like Sandler is trying to make people hate him now.
Last week: 7-7
Season so far: 77-53