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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pittsburgh is THE game of the year

by LosAngelis

It's just my humble opinion, but I think this game will shake out the season for the Packers. It's a big game.

The previous "big game" was Minnesota, a game where we had fans back in the saddle and hopeful, and had a chance to win and actually be back in the thick of the NFC North. I think we'll look back and realize exactly how devastating that 2nd half meltdown was...not just for the game, but for the season.

This game, to a lesser degree, probably will truly extinguish any remaining "hope" for success with a loss. The Packers, with a win, will be 2-6, .250, and still out of the hunt, but at least we can remember back to the year in the 80's when the Pack started out 2-6 and finished 6-2. That's not impossible.

1-7 is pretty much impossible.

This game is also critical, I believe, in keeping this team together. We've had several situations just this week that make us suspicious that the wheels may be loosening.

The cutting of Joey Thomas, who has probably generated the fastest fall from grace in Packer history (pre-season starter to cut in Week 7).

Increasing off-field issues, including, yes, cell-phone-gate. Sherman's statement about this being his "Best season of coaching" is certainly up for debate, but out of context, that's something you don't normally hear out of a 1-6 coach.

I am a strong believer in this team's ability to stay in games. I think there are some elements of the team that aren't putting in 100% effort, and that is hurting our team a bit. While the Packers haven't done enough to win, they've done enough to always be close. The wheels are off when we lose the second part of that equation.

Much has been ballyhooed about the Packers ability to win at home. After establishing themselves against the Saints, this game, against a quality opponent, will be a test to see if the Saints were a fluke. The fans are growing more temperamental, and if the team starts falling behind, expect a mutiny from the stands.

I think a loss means we shift to "next year", or, at least, the offseason. It's a pretty big blow, and knowing the Steelers are hurting at a key position should hopefully be some incentive for the Packers to believe in themselves.

I do believe the Packers, for the most part, believe in themselves and have stayed in a lot of games. That doesn't mean there aren't some sandbaggers in the midst. But it's easy to lose a couple close ones and be 1-4 and still believe in yourself. It's a lot harder at 1-8, 1-9, 1-10....

If there is a game to be mentally prepared for, this is the one. It's a quality opponent that is beatable. Our defense has contained many running games this season, and hopefully, our secondary will keep Batch in check.

It may come down to our offense's ability to conquer a very good defense. It may be a very low-scoring game.

But, it's our biggest one.

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