Ranking the best Packers games of 2010
June 30, 2010, by Brian E. Murphy
~The next game is the biggest game. Although a cliche, it’s somewhat accurate.
Divisional games, especially against the 2-time defending division champion Vikings, are unquestionably the most important because each game against them is a 2-game swing in the standings, plus key tiebreaker edges potentially.
Imagine, had the Packers just won either game against the Vikings last season, the Packers would have been the division winner at 12-4, while the 11-5 Vikings would have had to play the wildcard game at Arizona. That 1 game would have been at least a 2-game swing in the standings.
But this is a ranking of the best and most exciting 5 games on the schedule for 2010 and not the most important.
If it was the most important 5, it would have the 2 games vs Minnesota, 2 games vs Chicago, and the road game at Detroit.
The Packers at Steelers game last year was the most exciting game of the whole NFL season, right ahead of the Colts comeback win over the Patriots.
So, here are the most exciting, intriguing 5 games on the schedule for the Packers this year, according to me.
- #5- Packers @ Bears, week 3 -ESPN
A very key early season divisional rivalry game, on the road. Here’s the thing to remind people how crucial these early divisional games are: Last year, in the season opener that also was on primetime TV, the Packers barely beat Jay Cutler and the Bears with a long TD pass to Greg Jennings with under 100 seconds remaining.
This was despite 4 Jay Cutler interceptions to none for Rodgers. So it was a very close game that easily could have gone the other way, and in fact the Packers needed all of Cutler’s 4 ints to escape with the win. Remember Johnny Jolly’s miraculous interception inside the 5-yard line?
Had this game gone the other way, the whole season would have played out differently. Also remember that the Bears beat the Vikings in week 16 last year, and now have added Julius Peppers.
The Packers will enter the 2010 season with high hopes, but a loss at Chicago here and the Packers easily could be sitting at 1-2, with the Bears at 2-1 or 3-0.
- #4- Cowboys @ Packers, week 9 -NBC
This has been a key matchup for the past 3 seasons, and 2010 should be no different. In 2007, they played in week 13 at Dallas with both teams at 10-1, and Brett Favre put the Packers in such a deep hole (27-10) with 2 interceptions and a terrible performance, that even Aaron Rodgers 4th quarter heroics weren’t quite enough.
That gave the Cowboys the #1 seed and the Packers the #2 seed that year. Of course, both teams lost at home in the playoffs to the Giants anyway, so the game wasn’t as important as everyone thought.
Two years ago, early in Aaron Rodgers first season starting, the Cowboys smacked the Packers around in Lambeau in NBC’s Football Night in America. That pretty much signaled the Packers problems and they faded to 6-10, while Dallas marched on.
Last year, the Packers again hosted Dallas on NBC, but this time Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews hammered Tony Romo’s Cowboys. It was the game that turned the Packers season around after the mid-season slide left them at 4-4 after the embarrassing loss in Tampa Bay. This week 9 title will be just as significant as the previous two, and quite possibly as much as the 2007 game. The Packers will have a bye after this game, and then will travel to Minnesota and to Atlanta afterwards. It’s the end of a brutal stretch and it could have key NFC tiebreaker implications.
- #3- Packers @ Patriots, week 15 -NBC
While not as important as the key NFC and NFC North games, this should be an exciting, cold-weather thriller between Tom Brady & Randy Moss, and Aaron Rodgers & Charles Woodson. Moss and Woodson were two studs in the 1998 draft, and have had some good battles against each other, but not for a few years. Rodgers has professed his admiration for Tom Brady, so he’ll be extra amped to show Uncle Tom his good stuff, on Football Night in America. Both teams figure to be battling for playoff spots and seeding, and with only two weeks left after this game, the game will have a playoff atmosphere.
- #2- Packers @ Jets, week 8
Halloween day, the crazies will be all over in the new stadium in New Jersey for this game. The Jets made the AFC Title game this January, and are expected to contend for the Super Bowl again this season after adding LaDanian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie. All 4 of those guys have been in a Pro Bowl or 2 the past 3 or 4 seasons. Cromartie and Holmes are still early in their primes, while Taylor and LT are at the very back end of their Hall of Fame careers. Still, this team came 1 game away from the Super Bowl without any of them, and they figure to be better this year. Another interesting aspect is the Revis Island. Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson were the top 2 guys for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last year, and Jets coach Rex Ryan was vocal about his guy deserving it. Both defenses run aggressive 3-4’s too. There’s a lot to like about this matchup, but a win here could be the best road win in Aaron Rodgers career and set the Packers up for bigger and better things the 2nd half of the season. The Packers would like to be 6-2, 7-1, or even 8-0 when this game ends.
- #1- Vikings @ Packers, week 7 -NBC
Benedict Favre returns to Lambeau Field. Last year, there were a lot of boos from the Packer faithful when Brett came out in white and purple. But then he went out there and carved up Dom Capers’ overmatched defense for the 2nd time of the season.
Number 1, that should make Packer fans even more mad at him and realize he is the enemy now. So they will boo even louder this time. Number 2, Dom Capers has never beaten Favre and he absolutely must show some new and effective schemes to throw at Favre. When Favre doesn’t get pressured, he is a surgeon. Still. We all know it. But when he does get pressure, especially up the middle, he’s capable of donating presents to DBs and LBs. He knows what the DBs are doing at all times. This has to change. This game will have the atmosphere of an NFC Championship game, and some think it might actually be an NFC Championship preview. The Saints figure to fall back a bit. The Cowboys are a lot of so-called experts picks to come out of the NFC, but both the Packers and Vikings crushed them last year, so I’m not so sore. That’s why this game might be the game of the year. Unlike the 2009 game of the year at Pittsburgh, this result will have added significance due to the division rivalry and the fact that the Vikings have won this division both years Rodgers has been the starter.