What are the Pack's chances tonight in Philly? I'm having a hard time finding much support for an upset even amongst the most faithful/blinded/idiotic fans out there. Which is frustrating for many reasons, chief among them that this is the NFL and as lame as the saying is, "Any Given Sunday" is sorta true. I assume this phrase also applies to Mondays but I'm not doing any research on it. Sorry if that bums you out.
I'm not predicting a win. I am predicting that the Eagles will describe the Packers as "plucky" and "resilient". And really that's all I want. For now. I've seen improvement in each week culminating in a win at Detroit last week. You can rightly make the argument that the teams the Packers have faced have gone downhill in talent so how much of last week's showing was improvement and how much was OTC? (or, other team's crappiness).
This Philadelphia team is somewhere in the neighborhood of the Saints as far as ability. A solid qb, dynamic runner out of the backfield and some young and basically unknown wideouts. The defense in Philly is obviously better but they lack the collective positive mojo that most impartial fans have been sending to the Saints in a somewhat misguided way of supporting New Orleans since Katrina.
I think the Packers can play with this team. I think they can win. Part of that is not knowing what the heck Mike III is going to do and part of that is based on how in control last week's game felt to me. I know it was a back and forth affair but I never really doubted they would win. Maybe that says more about me than the team but I'm not alone in this.
Tonight I expect to see many things. But these are the big three.
1. Defensive Improvement - particularly of the younger guys like Hawk, Poppinga and Collins. They've improved each week, especially Hawk. Overall the D still is too prone to big plays and our safeties are killing us in coverage but this unit is better than they've played.
2. Mike III's playcalling - say what you want about week 1 against the Bears but this team will score points and change tempo. That's beautiful isn't it? If Mike II had his running game stymied so effectively like Mike III did last week against Detroit would he have come up with playcalling that forced the opponent to waste two timeouts? Would the D have been on their heels even though they had basically eliminated half of the offense? I think not.
3. Adjustments - We make them. On the fly. Some would say it's a weakness as the coach won't hold to his own philosophy. I prefer to think of it as not ramming your head against a brick wall 12 times and then doing it again just to see if anything's changed. I was and still am a big fan of replacing Mike II because of this issue. He was a solid coach and tried not to make mistakes but I never got the impression we were outthinking the opposition. With the win at Detroit it was clear that they had no idea what Mike III was going to call, and therefore unable to stop it, and that is a nice change.
I'm counting on seeing evidence of all of those items tonight. If we get 2 of the 3 we'll lose by a little, 1 of 3 we'll lose by a lot. But if we get all 3? Shhhhhh. Just take this little pill and enjoy the ride.