With the World Cup over, and not being interested in the least in baseball or the Favreian dramatics of Lebron James, myself and doubtless others are left chomping at the bit, wondering just how much of a shot the Green Bay Packers have of winning it all, as is our birthright and raison d’etre, and how much of a shot others give us.
This article came to view, prompting a review of all betting lines as of now.
It ranks our Packers as having just the fifth best chance of lifting the Lombardi Trophy in victory, with 11/1 odds (about nine percent), behind New England (9-1), San Francisco (7-1), Denver (13-2), and Seattle 13-2. The Bears are 16-1 and the Saints are 14-1.
Most noteworthy is how poor the “analysis” is. The author writes that the key to the Packers success is “they see a little bit more from their depleted receiving corps.” This should leave the reader shaking his head, wondering how Matt Reevey gets paid for such drivel, as it discredits anything else. The departure of James Jones leaves our receiving corps depleted, which still features the vastly underrated Jordy Nelson as well as Randall Cobb? With the up-and-coming Jarrett Boykin coupled with two promising draft selections, a not-so depleted receiving corps this year is, in fact, not the $64,000 question. It is the defense, particularly whether there will be improved safety play and whether Julius Peppers and Datone Jones will significantly bolster the pass rush. This is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the current state of the Packers.
Still, the subject matter piqued my curiosity. Oddsmakers currently put the Pack between 10/1 to 15/1 on these sites:
All place Denver as the favorites, with Seattle just behind, and San Francisco and New England ahead of the Pack.
Do we really have a less than 10 percent chance of fulfilling our destiny this year? With expected improvements in the pass rush and safety play, combined with a simplified set of defensive schematics better suited to younger players, the defense should be far more effective this year. With the continued rise of Eddie Lacy, creating a two-pronged air and ground attack on offense, the Pack should instill fear in every opponent, every time they line up on the field. Very simply put, the Packers should have far better odds than 10/1 or 15/1.
First, we can dispense with Denver outright. As I wrote previously, if you get to the Super Bowl, you damn well better win it. Because if you lose, you will not come back and win it again with the same coach and quarterback tandem:
Most remarkably, no team — NO TEAM — has lost the Super Bowl and then won it the year after since Don Shula’s Dolphins perfect season in 1973, after losing the big game in 1972. Indeed, since then, only one team has been able to recover from a Super Bowl loss to come back and win it with the same coach and quarterback. That would be Tom Landry’s Cowboys in 1978, who lost it in 1976.
Both of these feats happened a long time ago, in a different era of football. Quite happily, even Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been unable to overcome this.
Peyton Manning, now indisputably the choke artist par excellence of all time, is a year older. The splashes they made in free agency will probably disappoint as most splashes in big name free agency do. Denver is out. Indeed, given the invariable decline that occurs after a Super Bowl loss — nevermind one of the most embarrassing blowouts in the game’s history, even for the Broncos — one cannot expect Denver to win the Super Bowl this coming year. I expect them to finish behind Kansas City.
San Francisco will also disappoint with such lofty expectations. Not just on the basis of this rule about losing Super Bowls (which proved correct last year), but because the not-so-secret rift between Jim Harbaugh and seemingly everyone else in the organization cannot possibly bode well for them. Facing stiff opposition, to put it mildly, against Seattle, the 49ers will be lucky to make it as a wild card team. I expect our improved, resurgent Packers to put them down in any postseason meeting, particularly at Lambeau. The nightmare ends at four in a row.
In the NFC, that leaves just Seattle and New Orleans standing in our way. We face both teams on their field in the regular season, and I expect the Packers to lose each game.
If we do lose both games, the loss of head to head would obviously mean we lose the first-round bye and homefield advantage if these teams have an equal or better record. But will that happen? Glancing over both teams’ schedules, New Orleans and Seattle can very realistically go 11-5, maybe 10-6 if things break our way.
Seattle is likely to lose these games:
- Oct 26 at Carolina. Again, the Seahawks do not fare well back east. Carolina is a good team, particularly at home. Loss.
- Nov 16 at Kansas City. Arrowhead is a notoriously difficult place to play for visitors. The Chiefs will improve from last year. This is a bona fide loss.
- Nov 27 at San Francisco. These teams beat the shit out of each other on home turf. Oh and it is on a short week, favoring the home team more. Loss.
- Dec 07 at Philadelphia. Eagles will likely win the division. Philly is a tough place to play. Did I mention Seattle plays poorly on the East Coast? Loss.
In addition to these games, where the opposition should be clear favorites, three games stand out as potential losses — Oct. 6 at Washington, Oct. 19 against an improved Rams team, and Dec. 21 against an improved Cardinals team that could finish ahead of the Niners. The Seahawks will likely lose one of these three games, maybe two. With the Packers at least having a decent shot at an upset, as well as possibly one of their home games against division rivals, that puts them at 11-5 or 10-6.
The Saints can be expected to lose Sept. 7 at Atlanta, Oct. 19 at Detroit, Oct. 30 at Carolina and Dec. 15 at Chicago, with potential losses on Sept. 26 at Dallas and Nov. 30 at Pittsburgh, of which they should probably lose one of two.
Conceding losses at Seattle, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay (we never fare well there), and one loss against either one of the away games at Detroit or Chicago, and possibly at home against New England, the Pack can reasonably achieve home field advantage against either of these two threats with a 12-4 record. If the Packers accomplishes this, they should be favorites to win it all.
If they fall short of that 12-4 sweet spot, it would be a daunting task to face either of these teams on their turf in the playoffs. But it would not be a foregone conclusion of “metaphysical certitude.” We beat the shit out of the Falcons in that infamous playoff game, which was then considered an equally prohibitive environment.
At the beginning of the World Cup, I was very pessimistic about Germany’s chances with Brazil at home, particularly as they had not lost at home since about the time I was born. Brazil was given nearly 40 percent odds of winning it all at the Round of 16. As a side note, would it not be wonderful if Mike McCarthy showed highlights of dem deustchen Blitzkrieg in Brasilien just prior to the season opener, replete with all those Brazilian fans crying and gnashing their teeth, for inspiration, and to show what is possible in hostile territory.
Given all the possible scenarios, the Packers certainly have a better shot than one-in-10. While largely under the radar from shrill pundits and oddsmakers, this could be the year where the Green and Gold machine gets back on track and wins yet another Lombardi Trophy during the McCarthy-Rodgers era, destroying everyone who stands in the way.