Saturday, April 14, 2007

Roadmap to The Playoffs 2007

With the release of the NFL schedule for 2007, a lot of people have taken a crack at predicting how may games the Packers will win this year. My questions is, how can we get to 10 wins? That number is important because a 10-6 record almost always gets you in the playoffs. Last year, because of the relative weakness of the NFC vs. AFC, a nine win season was enough to secure a playoff berth, and the Packers almost made it with their strong finish and 8-8 record. When I first saw the 2007 schedule, I thought getting to 10 wins looked like quite a daunting task.

To me, getting to 10 wins absolutely requires two things:

--Re-establish a formidable home field advantage, which has actually been shaky ever since the Atlanta Falcons came in and beat us at home in the playoff game in the 2002 season, and the problem has snowballed the last three seasons. When the schedule maker gives you four home games out of the first six, you should start at least 4-2, not 2-4.

--No more stumbling through the first five games of the season, as the team has done in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Looking at the individual games, I’ve circled four on the calendar that I think will tell the tale for 2007, and with the goal of reaching ten wins, the Packers need to:

1) Beat Philadelphia at home in Week 1. If we’re going to re-establish a home field advantage, we might as well get started right away.
2) Beat the Bears at home in Week 5. Here again, the Packers have had some embarrassing performances in recent years in nationally televised night games. What better time to reverse that trend?
3) Win either the game at Denver or the game in Kansas City in weeks 7-8, avoiding a 2-game losing streak.
4) Win at Dallas, traditionally a difficult venue for us.

The other wins in my 10 win scenario are, at home vs. San Diego (could be a very tough game), at home vs. Washington, Minnesota and Oakland, at St. Louis, and the final home game vs. Detroit.

In this scenario, I am allowing for a home loss vs. Carolina, which always plays the Packers tough, and, oddly perhaps, the Thanksgiving game vs. Detroit. The Lions almost always rise up and play a good game that day, and the Packers will have only a four day break between the Carolina game and the one in Detroit.

The other losses would come at NY Giants in Week 2, at Minnesota in Week 4, and at Chicago in Week 15. I’ve heard many people say the Bears will have clinched the division by then and will be “relaxing” before the playoffs begin, but teams only relax the last game of the season after clinching, not the 2nd last game. And the bitter taste of the whupping the Pack game them at home in week 16 last year—and the subsequent whupping that Rex Grossman got in the Chicago media—should be enough motivation for them to bring their “A” game.

To summarize, my scenario is to go 7-1 at home and 3-5 on the road. The games I have down at wins that I’m least confident about are the San Diego game at home, and the game at Dallas, but in each case we will be playing teams with new coaches. And having a new coaching staff always involves some uncertainty when those transitions occur.

Projected losses that could easily turn out to be wins would be the game at New York and the Thanksgiving game at Detroit, and the Carolina game at home.

So there we have it. A 10-6 season is clearly possible. But that’s easy for me to say. The only challenge I face during the games is making sure I don’t leave the brats on the grill too long.


Coby DuBose said...

The aura of Lambeau Field has worn off ever since sir Ron Mexico and his merry band of bonethugs won that playoff game.

Still, I don't think the Packers are that far from being a good team. As a Panthers fan, I know a little about underacheiving - here's to hoping both teams are in the playoffs in 07/08.

Mike said...

I myself am a Packers fan and I would love to see us go 10-6, hopefully that will be the case.

Although in my opinion it depends on in Favre still has some juice left in him and if our defense is semi-good, then we have a chance.

Casey said...

Eagles in Week 1, that is going to be an interesting opener. I hope Packers pull it off. Though your predictions seem logical, the NFL is a very surprising league, and you never know what might happen.