The game last Sunday against the Titans was neither a success nor a failure for the Packers. Green Bay came into the game looking to knock Tennessee off their streak and keep pace with the Chicago Bears.
They very nearly did it.
What counts at the end of the season, though, are those W's. There are no quality losses which credit your team half a point in tackle football.
Coming off two successive wins before the bye, and having many players back to full health over the bye week, the loss to the Titans stalled emotions for fans. However, in no way should the Packers be discouraged. Half of the remaining games are battles within the NFC North, and Green Bay has plenty of time to catch the Chicago Bears.
In my opinion, the hard part is over. The team has mostly recovered from their injuries, and they have played their toughest opponents in the Titans, Falcons, and Bucs. (Disclaimer: I know the Panthers are 6-2, and I'm probably underestimating them, but I just don't see them keeping that going.)
So now, the Packers get to look forward to a second half that is much weaker, and gives them control over much of the NFC North outcome.
It begins this week against the Minnesota Vikings. In Week One, the Packers toppled the Vikings 24-19 in Aaron Rodgers' first start. He looked poised and confident, and the Vikings had little answer to stop him.
The Vikings will have a tough time stopping the Green Bay passing offense without pressuring Rodgers. He completed 18 of 22 and scored two touchdowns, and moved around to avoid being sacked once in the game. With Jared Allen questionable to play Sunday, the Vikings may lose their premier pass rusher.
While Ryan Grant struggles throughout the season, he does have his longest carry of the year against the Vikings. If Grant has any success on the ground, Minnesota will have a tough time matching up.
To be fair, this isn't exactly the same offensive Minnesota team the Packers saw their first week. The Vikings wisely realized the Tarvaris Jackson is not their quarterback, and in his place, Gus Frerotte has done a respectable job. Averaging nearly 250 yards a game, he has thrown for as many touchdowns as completions to the opposing team, eight.
If the Packers can force a turnover early, that could be the early momentum they need for the win. That ended up being a factor in the Titans game, where the Packer defense was unable to make a game changing play.
The Vikings must control the ball, and pressure Rodgers to win the game. Green Bay needs to contain Adrian Peterson if they want the victory.
2008 looks to be a year where the NFC North will be a tightly contested race. Any victory within the division will be huge if the Bears, Vikings or Packers do end up in a tie.
The Packers started out their season well with an early win over the Vikings. They get another opportunity Sunday to start the other half of the season on the right track.