This Sunday two teams will face off in a game that will keep one team in the running for the playoffs, while the other team is in desperate need of a win to get back in the hunt.
The Carolina Panthers (8-3), in Week 13, are still trying to find that rhythm that they can build on to become a more sound football machine.
The Green Bay Packers (5-6), are still desperately trying to collectively get on the same page as well, but their chances of seeing the postseason are quickly fading into darkness.
I had a chance to speak with one of Green Bay's faithful fans this week, and he consented to doing an interview with me for the Bleacher Report, in regards to the Packers season and the upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers, where the Packers hold the record over the Panthers at 2-1 in Green Bay. I would like to thank Mr. Delaney for consenting to this interview.
"Give me a feeling of what it's like being a Packers fan in the New York area."
"The feeling is, it's usually thrown at me as a question; like, oh, you're a Packers fan? Like a surprised question, you know, nobody busts chops about it or anything, usually everybody's pretty good with that, you know?"
So that's the general feeling of being a fan of Green Bay in the New York area.
Like myself, I've been posed questions as absurd as, the Panthers are an NFL team? Now I understand that could just be a mere instance of ribbing, but yes, the Panthers very much are a team in the NFL, so I share his sentiments in that respect.
"Being that you have lived in the New York area your entire life, wouldn't it make more sense to be a fan of the Giants or the Jets?"
"Yeah, I like the Jets, but people are surprised when they ask, you're a Packers fan? Oh, okay, cool."
"What inspired you to become a Packers fan?"
"I started liking football when I was a kid, like 10 or 12 years old, and I think the Packers had won their first or second Super Bowl, Bart Starr was their quarterback, and I had a big poster on my wall; that was the first team I really liked, and again I was a big Bart Starr fan."
"I know it's a worn out question, and one that probably every fan of football would like to move away from, but how confident were you that the Green Bay Packers had made the right decision in parting ways with Brett Favre?"
"I have mixed feelings about that, and I think they could have handled that a lot differently; I think Favre could have handled it a lot differently. To me, he acted like a big baby—retiring and then I don't know what I want to do, I don't know if I want to come back; it's just if you want to play for a different team, just go, you know? You had a good life with the team, he was with the Packers around 17 years? If you're tired of it then stick to the retirement thing. If you don't want to retire then say I want out, and trade me. It could have been handled a lot differently."
"So are you kind of torn between Brett Favre being with the Jets and being a longtime Packers fan, and what are your sentiments towards that?"
"I'm not torn between anything. I'll always be a Brett Favre fan, and I'll always be a Packers fan. So one of the nice things—about being a New Yorker and liking the Jets—is now my favorite quarterback is on a local team."
"So for you, the Jets did the right thing in agreeing to a deal with the Packers to bring Brett to New York, while parting ways with Chad Pennington?"
"Yes, the Jets did the right thing in picking up Favre, and absolutely, parting ways with Pennington."
"Since Brett Favre is no longer with Green Bay, what do you think of how Aaron Rodgers is managing the offense and his abilities as the starting quarterback for the Packers?"
"I think Aaron Rodgers is doing a terrific job as the new top guy; he's got a lot to learn yet. He also has a big pair of shoes to fit into, and I mean we're tired of hearing the comparison between Rodgers and Favre, but it's time to focus on Rodgers and the Packers now. Favre is no longer on the team, so let's focus on who is there."
"The Carolina Panthers, coming off a bad loss to the Atlanta Falcons are coming to Green Bay on Sunday. Their all-time record against the Packers in Green Bay is 1-2. Do you feel that the Packers will be able to contain the dual rushing threats of DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart, and how confident do you feel about the Packers to possibly win this game?"
"My pick for this game, is the Panthers actually. After watching the Packers play against the Saints I just don't feel it. The Panthers just played a sloppy game last weekend against the Falcons, but I personally think that the Panthers can pull it off. It seems the Packers defense wasn't doing too well on Monday. I think it's the defense more than the offense really, I think that Rodgers has been doing a pretty damn good job, and I just don't think that the defense is keeping up with them (on offense)."
"How do you think the Packers offense will fare against the Panthers defensive front and secondary?"
"I think it's going to be a good matchup, I really do. I think it's going to be a good game—close scoring—and I think it's going to be a very well played game."
"Do you feel that maybe weather will have a factor and play into Green Bay's favor with temperatures also being an issue?"
"That's a good question, when you talk about the weather. The Packers are a good cold weather team. I don't think I've had a chance to see the Panthers play in a cold weather environment, but football's football. Anything can happen."
"What is your most memorable Packers moment as a fan of this franchise?"
"Oh, jeez! My most memorable Packers moments are all the Super Bowls. Every year that they've gone to the playoffs and gotten to the Super Bowl that would have to be memorable to me. More memorable experiences, we talked earlier about the weather, is watching the Packers play in ten-degree temperatures in blinding snow, and that's the way football is supposed to be played, as far as I'm concerned. That's what (the understanding) I grew up on."
So there you have it from a heck of a Packers fan, and again I would like to thank Mr. Delaney for his time and generosity in allowing me to interview him.
So now the question is, on Sunday, when the Panthers are in the small town of Green Bay, Wisconsin—questioning their abilities to play an effective four quarters of football, and trying to validate who they are, or thought they were—who will ultimately come out on top?
Are the Packers that legendary team, that the answers are there, but it's just a matter of fitting the right pieces of the puzzle together?
Are the Panthers really the team that at the beginning of the season, we were having "Super" ideas of grandeur, or in fact, are the Panthers merely paper lions?