Packers/Redskins And More

Greetings and welcome to another blog, the reading of which is probably the highlight of your day. Unless you are lucky enough to have a TV. Or access to the Internet. Or some 1970s issues of Cracked magazine that you found in a neighbor’s dumpster. Quick story: One day when I was living in Chicago (where I moved after graduating from the UW), I found a bunch of Rolling Stone magazines in the dumpster of my apartment building. That killed a Saturday afternoon. Back in the day, I couldn’t get enough information on Blind Melon.

Reading coffee-stained (I hope that was coffee) articles about Shannon Hoon seems like an idyllic way to spend a day compared to watching Sunday’s Packers/Redskins game. Similar in some respects to the opener against the Eagles in that the Packers mostly just had to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes to win, it was indeed the very embodiment of “winning ugly.”

But capitalizing on the mistakes of others and winning ugly sure beats making the mistakes yourself and losing ugly, so Packer fans will obviously take the Redskins game over that Sunday night debacle from a week ago.

But given that the Packers are a gaudy 5-1 and that any complaining seems on some level to be sort of ridiculous, there is room for concern. The offense has very much cooled off in the last two weeks: Since halftime of the Bears game, the Packers have managed only 323 yards of offense and 13 offensive points. Brett Favre has thrown four interceptions since throwing his last touchdown and is struggling to throw the long ball. And the absence of a running game is becoming more of a liability for this team: Teams are starting to completely — completely — discredit the Packers’ ability to run and are starting to focus more on shutting down the short passing game. It’s starting to work, which is troubling. NFL offenses can’t survive when they do only one thing — especially a very specific thing — right.

On the other hand, the defense is still playing well. And even when something begins to go poorly — like the loose coverage and lack of attention paid to Washington TE Chris Cooley in the first half of Sunday’s game — the defense seems able to adapt.

Anyway, the Packers go into their bye week with many more positives than negatives. Things look even rosier when you compare them to their competition. Who’s going to rise up to challenge them in the NFC North? The Lions? Nah, the defense stinks. The Vikings? Nah, not until they get a decent quarterback. The Bears? Nah, Cedric Benson is horrible and so is — and I can barely believe I’m saying this — that defense. The competition doesn’t look that much fiercer in the NFC even outside of their division: Dallas’s defense is porous, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have injury problems, and the Carolina Panthers have a quarterback who is old enough to get a Hoveround for little or no out-of-pocket expense. The Packers will be playing in January at Lambeau Field.

Oh, and by the way, I did pick the Packers to win this game in my preseason column. That makes me 3-3 for individual games but only one game off on the record (I said 4-2 into the bye week).

Elsewhere, don’t you get sick of ESPN pimping their Monday night games, even when they stink? Tonight’s game between the Giants and Falcons is a real stinker, a game that FOX would dump on its worst announcing team, like Ron Pitts and Tony Boselli. Yet ESPN wants us to believe that simply because it’s Monday Night Football, that it’s a big deal. Didn’t work Sunday night for NBC and that awful Saints/Seahawks matchup (big numbers for ABC) and it won’t work tonight. I’ll be watching baseball.

Speaking of baseball, I’ve been waiting for what seems like weeks for the wheels to fall off the Colorado Rockies bus. I just didn’t think they could sustain their near perfect ways for this long. Well, I give up. They will win tonight and complete the sweep of the Diamondbacks, who I thought would win this series in seven games. The Rockies have had great pitching, unbelievable defense, and remarkably timely hitting. But I’m not willing to concede the World Series championship to them just yet. While I think the series will be very competitive, I still have to believe the Rockies’ magic will fade against either Cleveland or Boston. But I also thought that the whole cell phone thing was a fad too, so what do I know?

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