If you were to watch Sportscenter or read any of the major sports media prior to the Green Bay Packers game against the Chicago Bears Thursday night you would have been under the impression that the Packers were on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention.
“If the Packers lose tonight should there be panic in title town?”
That was the common question you would hear prior to the game, which is something I found amusing because it is absurd that somebody would even consider panicking after only two games. The stat of nobody making the playoffs after starting 0-2 with both losses being at home was thrown around a lot, which is a pointless stat because it only takes one team to break that streak and all of a sudden that “panic” talk wasn’t warranted. In the last five seasons, minus the 2009 season where the Saints were dominant all year, the Super Bowl Champion hasn’t had a record better than 10-6 in the regular season, and most of those teams clinched their playoff spot in the last weeks of the season. So if the Packers were to lose and fall to 0-2 they would have to go at least 10-4 the rest of the way to meet that 10-6 mark, not that difficult to do, at least not for this team.
But the way the sports media was talking, it was as if they had written off the Packers before week two officially started! In fact most of the media were picking the Bears to win that game.
“If the Packers lose they will be 0-2 at home and two games behind the Chicago Bears in the division.”
Holy cow, two games behind in the division, what a death sentence for the Packers. There is no possible way the Packers, who had the best record in the NFL, could come back from a two game hole with only 14 GAMES LEFT TO PLAY, one of those being against the Bears.
Look, I got what they were saying, the Packers had lost two out of their last three games at home and the defense was playing poor, the Bears looked good, and blah blah blah. But to use the word panic, and use it the way that it was being used, it was if the Packers were being written out of postseason contention before they played their week two game. The Packers had only played 6% of their season (1/16) and already the team was facing a “must win” game? Just so you have an idea, this would be the equivalent of telling a baseball team to panic at 10 games, and a hockey or basketball team should be in panic mode around the five game mark. Just let that sink in. Yes, football has less games and so less chance to make up ground but come on.
Even if the doomsday scenario played out and the Packers lost to the Bears and even if every other NFC North team won, the Packers would be two games behind everybody with one game against the Bears, two against the Vikings, and two against the Lions, still plenty of chances to make up the lost ground.
But what actually happened? The Packers won and the Vikings and Lions lost. So now all four teams sit at 1-1 in the division. So much for that.
This wasn’t just an issue with the Packers. The same thing was being said about the Saints, Steelers, and Giants. What happened? The same thing as the Packers, well minus the Saints, the Giants and the Steelers both won and the talk of panic was over.
The Packers do have some issues that still need to be worked out. They did look great Thursday night but not every issue is solved. One week is too short of a sample period to determine if a team has fixed everything, just like one week is too short to determine if a team should panic or not.
Most importantly, it is our job as fans to panic, not the sports media. Nobody panics more than sports fans; every little detail is scrutinized about their favorite teams and if any little thing goes wrong there can be a full-blown panic riot (I just made that up.) This is especially true for Packers fans, who have become accustomed to a winning team year in and year out.
What I’m saying, and what this whole article is about, is that there is absolutely no excuse to use the word panic before the second game of the NFL season is played and if there is to be any panic it will come from the fans. And trust me, you will know when a fan base like the one the Packers have is in full panic mode.
And the best part about this whole thing? Sportscenter’s lead in after the Packers win was, “just how good is this Packers team?”
Panic to greatness after a 60-minute game. That’s sports.