Memories of a brutal NFC Divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants fester in the warm August air over Lambeau Field.
Last January, amidst a frigid Wisconsin winter night, the titanic 15-1 Green Bay Packers fans watched in horror as the goliath-slaying New York Giants stymied their team’s defense of its Super Bowl title.
It’s now seven months later, and time has not healed all wounds.
The Packers are still bitter toward the team who has, not once - but twice - spoiled their great season. Green Bay fans will gnaw their nails during the Week 12 rematch against those pesky Giants.
Only problem is they will be praying for retribution from their couches, as the game is in New York.
So what can a die-hard Cheesehead do to show in-person support for his team? How about attend a Week 14 home game in December against the rival Detroit Lions. Not only will that game feature offensive fireworks, but it could determine the fates of each team.
With much of the 2011 roster intact, the Packers are escaping no one’s radar this season. The stone wall protecting MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been fortified with the addition of Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. Having spent his whole career snapping the ball to NFL legend Peyton Manning, Saturday should have no problem synchronizing with Rodgers.
The playmakers from last year are all back, from receivers Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to tight end Jermichael Finley. The only difference is the addition of Pro Bowl running back Cedric Benson, who replaces the often ineffectual Ryan Grant. This outstanding offense should be able to light up the Lions' secondary, which allowed opponents the 22nd most passing yards and 23rd most rushing yards last season.
The defensive exploitations will probably be a double-edged sword, as the Packers welcome back an unaltered secondary, which ranked dead last in pass defense in 2011. It is doubtful they will be able to shut down an explosive Lions offense, featuring the NFL's premier wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, as well as a slew of other weapons, so they will rely on their pass rush to put pressure on Matthew Stafford.
With first-round pick Nick Perry joining Clay Matthews at outside linebacker, the Packers should have the talent to get after the quarterback and assuage pressure from the secondary. Being so late in the season, this game will be a yardstick for how well the defense has blended together, and give fans an idea of what to expect in the playoffs.
When the dust settles, the winner of this game will probably have control over the race for the NFL North crown. The upstart Lions have given every indication they will be even better this year - a scary thought for Packers fans.
So get your tickets now, and join 70,000 other Packers fans cheering your team to the playoffs.