Overreaction Rules the Day in the NFL

One of the great things about the NFL is the importance of each game. What we believe about teams and players can change 180 degrees in seven days. The truth is revealed before us weekly. Then the next week everything seems different.

The NFL is a 17-week roller coaster ride where we anoint teams and players on a weekly basis, seemingly forgetting who we loved just a week before. But wait a few weeks, we'll probably love them again.

In the AFC the Ravens are the best team. Wait, it's the Steelers, I mean the Jets--no, the Patriots. Wait, now the Chargers are the team to beat. The MVP race? Manning, no, Rivers, or Clay Matthews maybe, wait--Tom Brady.

So it is with fan bases and the media. Take our favorite team, for example. Following the loss in Atlanta, the Packers cannot run the football, continually commit untimely, undisciplined penalties and their special teams play is as bad as the ambience in the Metrodome.

Yet if they had beaten the Falcons, the Pack would have been tied for the top record in the NFC. A loss and they find themselves 8th in the conference, on the outside of the playoff party looking in with five games to play.

Are the Packers a flawed team? Yes. Putting 13 players, including six starters on injured reserve will do that to you. But they've proven they can play with anyone. All four losses have come in the final minute or in overtime. Just a week ago we were talking about the 85-10 scoring margin in the last three games. Now the sky is falling.

Despite a turnover in the end zone, a missed challenge opportunity and untimely penalties, the Pack lost on a last second field goal to a team that is now 19-1 at home with Matt Ryan as its starting QB. If they take care of business the next two weeks against losing teams, they will head to Foxboro for a Sunday night game against the Patriots that will once again give us a good gauge as to how well they're positioned to make a deep run through the playoffs.

Yes there are reasons for concern. The running game was non-existent early in Atlanta and Mike McCarthy chose to abandon it. The Falcons are tough to run against, and came into the game ranked 24th against the pass and had surrendered 300 yard games to Brees, Palmer and Kolb. There was little doubt the Pack would have more success through the air in this matchup.

Rodgers was brilliant, other than the fumble in the end zone. He gives the Packers a chance to win every game they play. McCarthy's play calling was aggressive, if a bit pass-crazy. Defensively, the Pack didn't give up a lot of yards, but the tackling was suspect and the production of Michael Turner was the difference in the game.

Bottom line, in the words of Mike Tice, "OK, calm down." The Bears aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread and neither are the Falcons. Like the Eagles and the Steelers before them, they are the flavor of the week.

Next week at this time everyone will be fawning over someone else. All that matters is getting into the post season and playing your best football once the calendar changes to a new year. Overreacting to what you've seen most recently accomplishes nothing. Look at the last few weeks, remember what you saw--then consider where your team stands.

Despite the injuries and the close losses, the Packers are in position to reach their ultimate goal. But the top-heavy NFC is leaving little room for error. As long as the team bounces back with relatively easy victories the next two weeks all will seem right with the world. Until they lose again.


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