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Many know Packers’ fans misery

Armchair Quarterback

December 22, 2011
The Mining Journal

Since misery loves company, Packers fans you have kindred spirits with supporters of the Bears, Texans, Titans, Giants, Raiders, Broncos, Jets, Ravens and Steelers.

Each of those teams is a contender - and in the case of the Texans, Ravens and Steelers, already a lock for - the playoffs.

But like the Packers, each lost last weekend, some to bad teams, to jeopardize their playoff positioning.

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As much as it must pain you to see a rare perfect season go down the drain, anything short of a collapse in these last two games will guarantee every Packer playoff game gets played on "The Frozen Tundra" in Green Bay, as thawed as it might be this year.

In the aftermath of the loss to KC, have you noticed a lack of pain on the faces of Green Bay players like Aaron Rodgers, who had to be getting sick of being reminded how much pressure they were supposed to be feeling as the 1972 Miami Dolphins tried to fashion voodoo dolls of these 2011 Packers to preserve their unique perfect season.

If there is to be a blessing in disguise, it's that while other teams may now be able to devise a formula to stop the Green Bay offensive juggernaut, the Packers have time to counter that strategy and simultaneously work on getting injured players, in particular offensive tackles, back on the field in time for the playoffs.

And just as a side benefit for this Detroit Lions fan, maybe Green Bay will sit all their starters on New Year's afternoon just so their friends in Detroit, like Ndamokung Suh, can join the playoff party.

Trust me, seeing the Lions come to town may get a bunch of Packer starters off the bench and into that game.

Without further ado, here this week's picks, keeping in mind that the bulk of the schedule will be played Saturday afternoon with games Sunday and Monday nights. (You can spend Christmas Day watching part of the NBA opening-day quintuple-header):

Tonight, 8 p.m.

Houston at Indianapolis - OK, the Colts got their win. And with the Vikings and Rams each sitting on just two victories, there's no need to start a win streak if Indy really wants Andrew Luck in the draft. Texans, 30-13.

Saturday, 1 p.m.

Cleveland at Baltimore - Enough messin' around, Baltimore! Do you want a playoff bye or not? Ravens, 24-14.

Denver at Buffalo - Tim Tebow's perfect antidote for the Patriots: another fourth-quarter drive for the winning score. Broncos, 20-17.

Tampa Bay at Carolina - I usually like the better defense this late in the season, but I think Cam Newton is out to prove he can finally win more than a third of the time. Panthers, 31-27.

Arizona at Cincinnati - Let me know if I'm overanalyzing: A better defense and playing at home makes Cincy a big favorite. But it's been shown that a team like the Cardinals with nothing to lose will play over their heads. Then on the other hand, Arizona is a terrible road team. In the end, take the Bengals, 19-13.

Oakland at Kansas City - Like the Colts, the Chiefs made their season in one day last weekend. Now back to reality. Raiders, 27-13.

Miami at New England - New England's gotta know it isn't going anywhere in the playoffs without the No. 1 seed. To protect that, it'll be Patriots, 23-19.

N.Y. Giants at N.Y. Jets - Late-season game, possible bad weather. I'll take the better defense. New York, 17-13. Oh sorry, that won't work; how about this? Jets, 17-13.

St. Louis at Pittsburgh - Even if Ben Roethlisberger doesn't play, do I have to justify this pick? Steelers, 24-10.

Jacksonville at Tennessee - Unlike a lot of other bad teams, the Jaguars' problem has nothing to do with living up to their potential. It's that injuries give them no potential to live up to. Titans, 27-10.

Minnesota at Washington - Whadya do with this game? Eenie, meenie, miney, take the home team. Redskins, 22-19.

Saturday, 4 p.m.

San Diego at Detroit - They're not quite in the playoffs yet, so if Detroit wants to prove they deserve a berth, they better win. This is a good test as the Chargers have reverted to their usual December Superman persona. Lions, 33-30.

Philadelphia at Dallas - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he's scared of Philly. Good enough for me. Well, that and Dallas' annual late-season swoon. Plus the Cowboys don't have to win this game, they can wait another week to wrap up the NFC East. Eagles, 28-21.

San Francisco at Seattle - Trap game if there ever was one. San Fran's coming off a big win over the Steelers while Seattle's won 5 of 6. And one little-known fact - for the season, the 49ers out-Tebow Tebow, running the ball more than they pass. So in an upset, Seahawks, 24-20.

Sunday night

Chicago at Green Bay - Yes, it's a big rivalry game, but the Bears have one hand tied behind their backs without quarterback Jay Cutler and best running back Matt Forte. And the Packers can begin their serious playoff push with the undefeated season distractions out of the way. Packers, 27-16.

Monday night

Atlanta at New Orleans - New Orleans knows the value of momentum heading into the playoffs, and besides, isn't it great fun to knock a desperate division rival for a loop? Saints, 37-27.

Last week - 9-7, 56 percent. Season - 148-76, 66 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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