Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's Football's High Season Again! Bring on the BRATWURSTS!

Clay Mathews, left, and Pack quarterback Aaron Rodgers, celebrate after Green Bay’s Super Bowl 45 win in 2011. Can they do it again! Cheese heads everywhere hope so!

It's football's high season, starting today, with the first of the wildcard playoff games. As screams of "Get the %#!*&" fill the house later this evening, as Packer LBs and maybe even B.J. Raji and the safeties scramble after "AP" - to get a win and move on - you can also bet wifey will be doing the same tomorrow when her team meets the Colts in Baltimore.

And in the midst of it, plenty of brats, potato salad, chips, chicken nuggets, beer and other good stuff to munch on.

There were originally two sides/opinions to the Green Bay wildcard game, with some Packers (e.g. CB Sam Shields) saying before the Minnesota game last week that "it didn't matter if Adrian Peterson got over 200 yards" and the Pack lost . Their view was that, as in the charmed 2010 season (when the Packers arrived as seed No. 6), it was preferable to keep playing rather than lose steam with a bye (which the Pack would have received with a 'W'). Others, like Clay Mathews, insisted they preferred the week off while "the other teams slug it out".

Well, the matter was settled with the hated Vikings beating the Pack but at least keeping that renegade AP nine yards short of beating the rushing record. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with small mercies.

Today's game will be at Lambeau, which historically has favored the Pack (their home ground after all) but the thinking on cold weather advantage has been somewhat permuted since: a) the Falcons arrived in 2002 and beat Brett Favre and the Pack, and b) a number of current Pack players (including Greg Jennings)  grumbling about the cold. This leaves some of us elder Pack fans mystified. Why would you not embrace the cold, and snow, and whatever the Miami Dolphins do their suffocating heat and humidity? (And please don't tell me the latter is "easier". If you say that you haven't walked in Miami when the temperature is 89 degrees and the humidity over 80%!)

The apparent erosion of cold weather advantage  in Titletown also has some of us wondering what mettle of player is now being drafted. If they come from the South, okay they had no choice....and they're not used to frigid conditions, but then the deal is you better damned well get accustomed to them, and climatize. (It also helps not to 'showboat' and enter Lambeau with only short sleeves, instead of wearing gloves and being properly suited up!)

Key to whether the Pack can beat the Vikes today is probably whether they can build an early lead large enough to force Minnesota to mutate into one-dimensionality - and emphasize passing with Christian Ponder, as opposed to using the running attack with Peterson. If, on the contrary, Jared Allen & Co.  is sacking A-Rod senseless and the Vikes build an early two TD lead or more, it may be all over but the weeping and gnashing of teeth ....even moreso in the Lambeau cold.

There've been some comments, opinions on assorted football forums that "Minnesota is this year's Giants" - the last seed that found its momentum and is going to go all the way. I hope not! I also don't think so, because if anything Mike McCarthy the coach of the Pack will be ensuring that another "one and done" fiasco doesn't occur like it did with his team last year.(The Pack had a regular season 15-1 record and home field throughout the playoffs when they were eliminated ignominously by the NY Giants!)

As for wifey's Baltimore Ravens (she is recovering from the flu btw, but lost her sense of taste and smell - which she hopes will be recovered by game time tomorrow), they should win. In the end it may depend on which team, visiting Colts or home Ravens, can muster the most emotion. The Colts have been using the 'lightning in the bottle' of their recovering (from cancer) coach Pagano.  The Ravens, with the announcement of LB Ray Lewis' retirement, will be using that. You can be sure the 70,000 -odd Baltimore fans will be worked up to a lather!

In the end, the game will likely come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes, e.g. turnovers. In any case, I may be going out on a limb, but I am picking all home teams to win their games this weekend. That means Indy, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Seattle will all be going home. I could be wrong, of course, but we will see. The main thing is that both the Pack and the Ravens win!

Now, bring on the brats, sliders and beer kegs!

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