Packers and Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Sports

OK, so the Packers utterly demolished the Vikings last week 34-0. Back on September 7, I predicted a closer, 13-10, Packers victory. (To my credit, I did write that “Adrian Peterson will just about be hitting the wall around this point in his rookie season. And what happened? The rookie sensation was held to his lowest rushing total this season and was knocked out of the game with a knee injury.)

Did anybody with any appreciation of the Packer/Viking rivalry really enjoy this game? Isn’t it overall more satisfying for Packer fan to see a hard-fought, close game that comes down to a single decisive play, a la the Monday night game on November 6, 2000, when Antonio Freeman caught that ball on his back and strolled into the end zone for the winning touchdown in overtime?

Isn’t it better to break Viking fans’ hearts by stringing them along, believing that they have a chance, and then crushing their beloved losers in purple in the fourth quarter? That game on Sunday was ridiculous from the outset. I can’t believe it held the interest of too many people, regardless of affiliation, much past halftime. I certainly tuned out by the fourth quarter. That blowout is the reason why FOX and CBS reserve the right to switch laughers in progress; folks in Minneapolis were probably calling KMSP and begging the station to switch to that Atlanta/Carolina game.

Speaking of Carolina, the Panthers come to Lambeau Field on Sunday in what should be another blowout victory for the Packers. Carolina is a mediocre 4-5 in a lousy division, but more significantly, has dropped three in a row by the combined score of 71-27. The Packers’ defense should be able to concentrate on shutting down the Panthers’ mediocre running game and force 94-year-old Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde to beat them, something he won’t be able to do, especially if star receiver Steve Smith (listed as questionable) can’t play. I’m not saying it will happen, but a second shutout in a row wouldn’t surprise me.

Anybody who says the Cowboys are the best team in the NFC isn’t paying close enough attention. The Cowboys have a little more sex appeal with Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, but they’re not the team that the Packers are. I like Green Bay to win that game on November 29.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What about this weekend’s Badger football game against the mighty Minnesota Golden Gophers? It will probably make last week’s Packer/Viking game look like a nail-biter in comparison. Let’s see, the Badgers men’s basketball team beat Savannah State by 47 points on Thursday night. I’ll take that spread for the football team Saturday.

Has the discrepancy between Minnesota and Wisconsin sports ever been greater than it is right now? Look at the facts: Coming off the 34-0 beatdown, the Packers are 8-1, while the Vikings are 3-6. The Badgers’ football team is 8-3, while the Gophers’ football team is 1-10. The Bucks, while not exactly a championship NBA team, are 3-4, while the Kevin Garnett-less Minnesota Timberwolves are 1-5. For the first time since I can remember, the Brewers had a better season than the Twins. While it’s too early to say what will happen this year, the Badgers’ men’s basketball team has been a powerhouse in recent years; the Gophers’ men’s basketball team has been a laughing stock since the “do my homework” scandal of 1999. Only the Minnesota Wild of the NHL can boast of outshining their Wisconsin counterpart, and that’s simply because Wisconsin doesn’t have an NHL franchise.

What does all of this mean? Well, if you know a sports fan from Minnesota, give him or her a sympathy hug. It is the holiday season, after all.

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