The decision to promote James Starks to starting running back was easy from a performance standpoint but difficult from a personal standpoint. I love that kid and hope he gets back on his horse very soon. In the meantime, James Starks will be an important cog in the Packers chances for the next four games. If there ever was an opportunity for the Packers to take the reins and show that control was never out of reach in the NFC North, the time is now. Aaron Rodgers said this week that he could not remember a stretch of NFC North rival games that amounted to four games in a row against NFC North opponents. And when we polled Packernation this offseason, many saw this stretch as the most dangerous one.
When I wrote yesterday that “… the Packers couldn’t ask for a better team to help them get on track” it seems a lot of people interpreted that to mean I think the game against the Lions would be easy. I never said that. No game in the NFL is easy and I have always warned people against taking NFC North rivals for granted. But this game against the Lions is going to be the season’s first blowout – Mark it down. And this stretch of games is the perfect time for the Packers to take the reins in the NFC North. They will run the table (barring injury to a critical player) which means they are still going to take the North. This doesn’t say that the Packers are going to have what it takes to go the distance because I think that is in doubt now especially with the Carolina loss and the Panthers playing in a conference that sends teams with losing records to the playoffs. No one is going to challenge the Panthers in division (and don’t even think about mentioning the Falcons…nope) and homefield advantage is something that I think the Packers need at this point.
But as far as this run of four games goes…nobody, and I mean nobody that the Packers will face in this run of four games even comes close to the challenge of the games against the Broncos at Denver and the Panthers at Carolina. Matthew Stafford is fielding questions about whether he is concerned about his job being on the line and the Lions defense is a shadow of its former self. Every Vikings fan on the planet has watched Teddy Bridgewater throw 6 TD’s and 6 INT’s and then sustain a concussion, and after barely coming back to win a few games they are all just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Bears…well they are the Bears and the Packers get them at home next.
Yes, they will be tough games, requiring preparation and hard work on the field. The Lions game will be a blowout because the Packers are sick to death of hearing criticism over losing two away games against two undefeated teams. They are even more sick because they had to admit that part of it was true…hence the benching of Eddie Lacy for James Starks. If you were looking for the game where the Packers played angry…it wasn’t last Sunday…it is this Sunday.
I believe the Packers will destroy the Lions and I believe they will run the table in these NFC North games. None of them will be easy, but all of them will be won. The scariest one will be at the Vikings in a couple weeks but I believe we will take that one too.