Let’s daydream a little while we’re all stuck home in quarantine. Daydream about the days we can all gather together again in Green Bay at the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field for a Packers game.
In the old days (February) when the family and I would pack up the car for a trip up north there were few things that would happen. Every time. We’d have an argument about the necessity of riding in a car seat. We’d run back into the house 10,000 times to find the right stuffed animals. We’d have to make sure the iPads were charged and loaded up with enough episodes of PawPatrol and Bunk’d to make you want to run the car off the road. Then, finally, mercifully, we’d find ourselves on Highway 41 north rolling past the Lombardi Ave. exit. From the backseat I hear the words that make me smile. Every time. “Daddy, look! The Packer Castle!”
Those words would send me into a daydream as the white lines hypnotically zipped past the windshield. A daydream so deep that I wouldn’t even have time to flip off the FIB who’s swerving in and out of lanes cutting off anyone in their wake.
A daydream about games at Lambeau, the first time walking out of the concourse into the main bowl when I was no higher than my dad’s hip. The Monday night when Freeman somehow made that catch. We were so high up our backs were against the old green metal structure of Lambeau. The snow-globe playoff game when Ryan Grant fumbled twice only to explode for one of the best playoff rushing performances in Packers’ history. There’s so many more…But I would also think about the upcoming season, the opponents, the games I’m most excited for.
I thought I’d share my daydream this Saturday afternoon. We all know the best games to attend are the divisional games, especially if they are in primetime. There’s nothing like 78,000 plus people screaming “the Bears still suck,” jeering those purple number 4 jerseys or the collective apathy towards Lions fans. So without further ado, here’s my 2020 Packers home, non-divisional opponents ranked only by my excitement.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: I don’t know much about the Jags. To be honest, that’s the reason they are in the number 5 slot. 2 seasons ago they we’re close, oh so close, to tripping up the Pats in the AFC title game. Then Blake Bortles was shipped off to LA after they brought in Nick Foles. But, Foles is now a Bear. They were a bit of fun when Minshew Mania hit in the wake of Foles’s injury. He was fun to watch. But when I look at their roster, nothing really excites me. I guess it would be interesting to see how the Packers game plan for one of the best running backs in the league, Leonard Fornette, but that’s it. There’s no history here, no rivalry, no big-name players coming in. My guess is this will be a Sunday noon game you could watch from your couch. If you haven’t been to Lambeau, this game could get you there for face value or under.
4. Carolina Panthers: I’m having a hard time digesting what’s going on with Cam Newton right now. With the state of the quarterback position in the NFL, I’m not quite sure how he doesn’t have a job. Taking Cam out of the mix definitely drives the Panthers down to the number 4 spot. I am excited to see how Teddy Two Gloves performs and Christian McCaffery is one of my favorite non-Packers to watch. The Packers and Panthers do share a little history. In the Panthers’ first season of existence, they inexplicably made it to the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field in January of 1997. Yes, the same year Farve and the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI. Those memories are always fun to relive.
3. Tennessee Titans: Who saw the 2019 Titans season coming? Not me. They started the year with former second overall pick QB Marcus Marioita under center and finished the season in the AFC title game with Ryan Tannehill under center. Though he had success in the win-loss column, Tannehill wasn’t the sole reason for their success. The scariest RB in the league was a big part of that. Derrick Henry tore through the postseason with record-breaking performances. Despite their recent success, this game ranks in the middle based on my excitement. A non-conference matchup against a team with minimal history against the Packers doesn’t provide quite the same atmosphere as conference opponents. This will likely be a primetime game considering the fact that both teams were in their respective conference championship games.
2. Atlanta Falcons: The Packers and the Falcons have a lot of history. They’ve battled in the post season and regular season in very meaningful games. In recent playoff history it seems that Atlanta has been more successful. Plus, the Falcons have been VERY active in free agency adding Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler Jr. This game could also have major playoff implications, depending on when this game is played and how each team performs. I’m hoping this game is scheduled for early December on a Sunday at 3:15 p.m. If you decide to stay home you’ll likely have Joe and Troy on the call (unpopular opinion, I love that duo). But I won’t have to worry about that. I’ll be on a metal bench in the main bowl of Lambeau Field.
1. Philadelphia Eagles: I guess I can hold a grudge. Last year’s Thursday night loss to the Eagles seemed like a bump in the road at the time. But if it wasn’t for that BS non-PI call at the end of the game, the Packers playoff picture would have looked A LOT different. If the rest of the season played out the same way after this loss the Packers would have had home field throughout the playoffs. Instead, they had to go to Santa Clara, again, and get pasted by the 49ers, again. Who knows what that game would have looked like if it were played in Green Bay. But I do know one thing, it would have been a hell of a lot more fun. Plus, the Eagles and Packers both have had recent success and big-play ability. It would surprise me if this wasn’t a prime-time game again this year. Last season I sat this one out. It was Thursday night and I didn’t want to take a vacation day on Friday. I won’t make that same mistake this year. I’ll be there watching Z sack Wentz at least 2 times.
——————Nick Meisner was baptized in a church of green and gold clad parishioners and grew up in the literal shadows of Lambeau Field. Needless to say, he has been a Packers fan for life. He writes for PackersTalk.com when his wife and two daughters are asleep and with a Miller Lite within arms reach. You can follow Nick on twitter at @nicmeis.