The Final Dozen

By half-time we all basically knew we were heading back to the playoffs as an NFC wild-card team, with the Pack stomping on the Sea-hawks and the Giants laying a big egg. In that respect, it was a swell day, since it was the Giants who ruined our hopes in 2007.

The playoffs offer hope each year, no matter how many problems your team may have, and this year's Packers have plenty. Oh yes, they do. But, dear readers, I have hope that four wins can be ours. As you and I see every week in the NFL, any team can win any week, and no team in the NFC is beyond our reach.

It really makes this old columnist happy to know that Ronnie Rodgers will be getting his first crack at the second season this year. I'm excited for him, and I'm excited to see how he handles himself. I think he'll do well. I'm excited to see whether this defense can lead us to victories on the road.

While it is true that any team in the final dozen can go on to win the Lombardi Trophy, I am realistic. I don't think we have a terribly great chance to win, to be honest with you folks. It's hard enough to win on the road, much less winning three games on the road in the playoffs, followed by a win in the Super-Bowl. It just seems we are too in-consistent, but what do I know? That said, though, I think once the coin is flipped in early January, I'm gonna be confident each and every game we are lucky enough to play in. It's hard to be realistic in the heat of the moment, folks.

Whenever I go ice fishing I like to be practical in my expectations, but I always end up throwing the ball deep. No matter what the conditions, I'll usually put a huge sucker on one of my traps, hoping for that special fish. Nine times out of ten, or maybe more, the biggest bait you can find won't get hit, and I guess this is the plight of a wild-card team. The chance is there, yes, but most years that flag never flies. It sits there idly, and then eventually it gets dark and you pick it up and head back to the truck, thinking, maybe next time, maybe next year...

But this is why ice fishing and the NFL are so great, dear readers. Sometimes you look out there and the 'big sucker' flag is up, waving in the wind, and you kind of give it a double-take, and then you realize that you might just have a monster of a pike on the other end of that line. Even at this point you sometimes don't catch the big one, but sometimes, no matter how long the odds, you feel the weight of glory on that line when you set the hook home, and then you know you've got a true beast in your hands. This moment, dear readers, is what makes all the patience and frustrations worth your while.

So I'm looking forward to January, of course, just as I am looking forward to getting out on the ice where the big girls swim tomorrow. It's no matter if I got skunked yesterday. Tomorrow is another chance to think big!

As for next week, at Arizona, it doesn't seem either team will have much to play for, and since we could face the Cardinals again in the wild-card, we probably will see vanilla schemes on both sides of the ball-game. In other words, it'll be another pre-season game, only in this case the 'real season' will be the playoffs on the horizon.