by Mark Metzler
So far, it’s been a good year for the Green Bay Packers and a good year to be a fan of the team. The resurgence after two years of missing the playoffs has been something to talk about and celebrate. It’s nice to talk with other fans about how the team might be able to improve, instead of commiserating over a loss. Packers fans are optimistic, and have reason to be for the rest of the year and beyond.
The team has exceeded expectations so far, with the offense continuing to improve each week. Aaron Rodgers is performing at the high level we have learned to expect from him, and running back Aaron Jones is becoming a star in the league. The rest of the offense is playing well. I’m particularly happy that the offensive line has held together. Rookie guard Elgton Jenkins has been an important part of the success.
The defense started strong and is better than it has been in several years. The Smiths, safety Adrian Amos and rookie safety Darnell Savage have helped to improve an awful defense to slightly above average.
One reason for the success is the team has been relatively healthy over the year. I do think that if Davante Adams wouldn’t have been hurt near the end of the Eagles’ game that the Packers would have won that game. Other than that, the Packers have been more fortunate than most other NFL teams.
While the team has yet to clinch a playoff spot, the likelihood is very high. No doubt, every game is important, especially the game this week against the San Francisco 49ers and the game in week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, who again showed their resilience in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. Both those games will be in prime time, with the 49ers game getting bumped to Sunday night because of the national interest, and the Vikings’ game to be on Monday night, in a game that should have big implications in the NFC North.
If the Packers get by the 49ers, it will give the team the inside track to homefield advantage and a first-week bye, something that should be welcome after a tough season, although there is something to be said with playing every week and maintaining a rhythm as the Packers did when they won Super Bowl 45. The next year the Packers did have that bye after going 15-1, only to get beat up at home by the Giants in the divisional round. So, it can be hard to know.
It’s been a good year to be a football fan in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s been a good season so far for the Vikings and the Packers. I thought the Vikings would be right about where they are at, but the season has been unexpected in some ways for the Packers. They had a lot of question marks, most significantly a new coach. Matt La Fleur has come up big.
One of the other unexpected teams this year has been on the college level with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Congratulations to the team and their fans. The Gophers were undefeated until last week, losing to Iowa in a close game and setting up a very important home game against the Wisconsin Badgers on November 30. The winner of that game will likely determine who gets to play the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big 10 championship. The Badgers, with one of its best teams ever, and the Gophers, with its best team in nearly 60 years, should be an epic game, one that will be entertaining. It’s been a lot of fun for football fans in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and that’s the way it should be.