There haven’t been many times I’ve been as frustrated after a win as I was on Sunday. Not because the Packers didn’t play well. Not because the offense “only” scored 20 points. They won a road game by 17 points in which they were favored by 12. I was frustrated because Twitter is a terrible place and Packers fans make me sad. The team is 11-4. They’re favored by 8 points to go 12-4 and win the division. If they do this they’ll most likely lose the #1 seed on a tiebreaker because guess what, kids? They’ll be tied for the best record in the conference.
But on Sunday I learned that Aaron Rodgers has noodle arm, despite his 78% completion percentage and 300+ yards. I learned that we might as well not even have the playoffs because Seattle’s going to win anyway. I learned that despite only allowing 109 yards of offense, recording 7 sacks and not surrendering an offensive touchdown for the second consecutive week, not only does it not count because we played Tampa but we need to get AJ Hawk on the field more. I also learned that because Davante Adams has 5 drops this season (one every 3 games) he has a “severe case of the dropsies” and the Packers don’t have a viable 3rd receiving option.
I tell my co-host on From the Benches, Jacob Westendorf, to not criticize the listeners/fans in “Cut That” (the show’s ending segment) all the time. I don’t think there’s any sense in telling people how to cheer and also no sense in attacking the people that support the show. With that said, what the hell is wrong with you people? How does no one realize how good we have it as Packers fans?
I get accused of seeing things through Green and Gold glasses. That’s fine. I’m an optimistic fan. I don’t really even understand the point of being a fatalistic Packers fan. Here are some harsh realities for those negative Packers fans: this team is good. This team is widely regarded by non-Packers fans to be among the top 4 teams in the league. This team has the same record as the mighty mighty Seahawks, and honestly has just as strong of a body of work. This team, according to non-Packers fans in Las Vegas are the 3rd most likely team to win the Super Bowl. They’ve beaten one of the two teams ahead of them in those odds.
How different would the narrative if Jordy Nelson hauls in the 94 yard TD pass instead of drops it against Buffalo? The Packers would be 12-3 and still needing a win on Sunday to accomplish anything more than the 5 seed. But they’d be a team on a 7 game winning streak and still might be “the hottest team in the NFL”. Instead they are just winners of 10 of their last 12 including victories over 3 playoff qualifiers (either Carolina or Atlanta is getting in). Why should one play costing the team one (mostly meaningless) game so differently affect people’s opinion of the team? Why are Packers fans the least able to stay calm and hold the same opinions about the team from week to week. I remember when the team was declared a 4-12 team part of the way through the Jets game on Twitter.
Yes, the Packers are flawed. Yes, they play better at home than they do on the road. So do most other teams, including Seattle. Yes the Packers have lost 4 games. Seattle has lost to Shaun Hill and Alex Smith this season. They almost lost to the Raiders and then Panthers as well. The Patriots lost to Green Bay and almost blew a game to the Jets on Sunday. The Broncos are experiencing the annual Peyton Manning December/January fade and lost last night.
It’s all about expectations, and how you manage them and what we as Packers fans have come to expect from the team and the QB is not normal. The Packers 6 straight playoff appearances are completely unique in the NFC. No other team has done that. Last year’s NFC Championship teams didn’t both qualify for the postseason. This isn’t college football. The Packers aren’t recruiting the best players in the country, they don’t have more money than other teams/programs. There are no inherent advantages to being the Green Bay Packers.
All things being equal, every team in the league would go 8-8 and we’d have a different Super Bowl winner every 32 seasons. Just think about that for a minute. Teams should have a 1/32 chance of winning the Super Bowl every season. This is a salary cap league, there are no teams that have a decided advantage over the other one for any tangible reason.
Yet year after year, the Packers are in the playoffs. Year after year, the Packers get another “bite at the apple”. The standard of excellence that has been set in Green Bay is truly remarkable and I think as fans we should be a little bit more appreciative. What Rodgers has done, specifically, has put Packers fans in a very strange place. He’s never turned the ball over more than 3 times in a game. He would have to throw 250 consecutive incompletions to not be the NFL’s all time leader in passer rating. If he doesn’t throw for 300 yards and at least 3 TDs with no INT people ask what his problem is. He is statistically (by a wide margin) the most efficient quarterback that has ever lived.
This Holiday season, besides spending time with your family and loved ones and remembering what the season is really about, remember that the Packers are a gift. Imagine if you were a Browns fan. Imagine if you were a Bears fan. My god, imagine if you were a Vikings fan. The Packers are going to the playoffs this season and have set themselves up in a way that they’ll probably go 6 or 7 times in the next 9 seasons. I’m the last guy to be satisfied with division titles and playoff appearances but you can’t win it if you’re not in it. The 2010 Packers won the Super Bowl as the 6th seed. The 2011 Packers didn’t win a single playoff game as a prohibitive favorite and #1 seed. It may not be Thanksgiving but let’s be thankful that we get to watch the Packers go for a ring again. Go Pack Go.