It's big, red, round and it's staring you in the face.
No, it's not an unfortunate case of acne. Rather, if you're a Green Bay Packers fan, it's the button clearly labeled "PANIC!"
Do you press it? It sure is tempting, isn't it?
Obviously, starting 0-1 is not the end of the world. It especially isn't for a team as loaded with talent as the Packers. Neither would be starting 0-2 should the Packers lose to their archrival Chicago Bears tomorrow night, but it would throw the Packers behind the eight ball in more ways than one.
First, it would put the Packers at 0-2 in the NFC. The Packers would then be in poor position to once again claim home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, even after only two games. The Packers went 15-1 last season and didn't lock up home field until Week 16 thanks to a late push from (ironically) the San Francisco 49ers. It is very possible it could come down to the same two teams again, and with conference record being a potential tiebreaker, every conference game counts.
Then there is the possibility of falling to 0-1 in the division. The Packers swept through the entire NFC North last season and left the other three teams in the dust. This year, they probably won't be as lucky. The Lions are as lethal offensively as the Packers are and have a superior pass rush. The Bears offense suddenly looks explosive with the addition of Brandon Marshall. The Vikings are still rebuilding but could be up there in a couple years.
One also has to consider the effect a loss to the Bears would have on the Packers' confidence. They have always been a team that has had a swagger to it, but losing to a team they have beaten six out of the last seven times would definitely be a body blow for the Packers. There's still time to recover from it, but for a team with Super Bowl expectations the Packers have to dominate their division if they want to dominate the NFC in the playoffs.
If the Packers lose Thursday, should they still be considered Super Bowl contenders?
Mike McCarthy has always placed an emphasis on winning at home and maintaining home-field advantage and the mystique of Lambeau Field. Losing two games at home in a span of five days is unacceptable, and McCarthy hopefully drove that message home to his players. The coach should have no trouble getting his men ready to play this game.
To answer the question the headline of this article asks, the answer is yes...and no. Being 0-2 with both losses in conference and one loss in the division is a hole no team wants to be in. Given how tight the NFC race was last year despite the Packers winning 15 games and with the improvement within the NFC North, this could be considered a must-win game,
On the flip side, the Packers are more than capable of digging themselves out of said hole. It's near impossible to keep an offense that talented with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers at the helm down for long. Even with all the liabilities on defense, the Packers always have a chance with Rodgers at the helm. The Packers can get out of it, but it's obviously not an ideal situation.
Teams have started 1-0 and finished 1-15. Anything can happen in the NFL. The fickle finger of fate can point in your favor at any time as well as it pointing against you. That unpredictability is what makes the game of football so fun to watch.
That's why this is a must-win yet it isn't.