We live in a world of severe overreaction. A world in which after only one week into the NFL season we've crowned Robert Griffin III the Rookie of the Year and Andrew Luck a bust.
The consequence of living in this world is hearing a multitude of talking heads in fancy suits embellishing on our televisions, shouting to us that a team must win a certain game. With the exception of a playoff game or a game that eliminates a team from playoff contention, there does not exist a "must win game." Really, the severity of games is much like homeland security alert levels, a list of colors ranging from yellow to red.
Following a week 1 loss at home to San Francisco, Green Bay should feel the pressure they're receiving over their upcoming showdown with the Bears. There is four reasons why:
First, you only get eight home games a season. To secure a playoff spot, a team needs 10 wins at least. For every home loss a team suffers is an additional road victory they need to make up. The Packers road schedule this year consists of, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Houston, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Seattle and St. Louis. If they lose Thursday to Chicago, its hard to find at least 4 road wins in that lot, and that's only if they win out at home which is no picnic given their visiting opponents include Detroit and New Orleans.
Tiebreakers become imperative in division races and playoff seeding. Green Bay lost their tiebreaker with the 49ers, an obvious contender, and can't afford to lose another versus the Bears. A loss to Chicago creates an invisible half game deficit to Chicago in the standings.
Say the Packers repeat a sloppy dejected week one performance and lose to the Bears. This result would hurt the Packers in two psychological areas. First, the Packers themselves would begin to lose confidence. Lest we forget that the Packers final home game a season ago was their shocking loss to the New York Giants in the playoffs. Couple that with last week's loss to SF, a third straight home loss would ignite hysteria in the Green Bay locker room. Some receivers will begin to point fingers and demand more touches, coaches will become more critical, Rodgers' ego inflates, the defense blames the offense and vice versa—all in all morale will plummet as it did in the Jets locker room a year ago.
Possibly worse than that, a loss to Chicago would have the Bears roaring the duration of the 206 mile drive back home on I-43. The fragile offensive line begins to believe in themselves and their aging defense will feel rejuvenated. More lethal would be the confidence grown with Cutler and his talented receiving core. With a quarterback as emotionally unstable as Cutler, there exists no greater danger than fueling him with confidence.
Green Bay's panic meter is not quite at level Red. However, a win Thursday against the Bears will calmly reinstate the Packers back to their favorite operating level color: Yellow.
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