This weekend I attended my very first professional football game.
I’ve been a fan my whole life, but as any fan of the Green Bay Packers knows, tickets are hard to come by. I came into the tickets through a friend’s uncle, which is the standard connection for getting tickets, I presume.
Whenever I told people last week that I was going to the game, the reaction was almost universally “That’s awesome! Where’d you get the tickets?” Sure you can buy them online, often for the small sum of an arm and a leg, but how fans go about acquiring their tickets is often a story in and of itself.
Scary Moment In Lambeau
Attending my first Packers game came in the very same week that I became a part-owner of that very franchise.
Last week I wrote a post that addressed this, as well as a few things Green Bay needed to do to move to 19-0 this season. On Sunday, the Packers ran the ball very well, caught the ball, made tackles, and went for the kill right away. It’s no surprise the Packers rolled over the Raiders 46-16 on Sunday to move to 13-0, but the one thing Green Bay was unable to do was the most important thing they needed to do: stay healthy.
I think being at the game helped my well-being when Greg Jennings went down with a knee injury on Sunday. I couldn’t see a replay, and I didn’t have to hear speculation that he might be done for the season. We saw him give a thumbs up to the crowd as he was leaving, which was good enough for me. Jennings limped off the field, but he did it under his own power, so I assumed they were holding him out because the game was well in hand.
Neither scenario turned out to be the case, as the latest report is that Jennings suffered a sprained knee and will only be out a few weeks, presumably back in time for the playoffs.
Should Packers Rest Starters?
This presents the obvious question: do the Packers rest their starters for the playoffs?
The answer is complicated.
I don’t think they rest until they wrap up the #1 seed and home-field advantage, which can be accomplished next week at the now Todd Haley-less KC Chefs.
After that point, I think Mike McCarthy has to plan to treat the final two games of the year like pre-season games, reserving the right to keep his starters in if he chooses. They of course want to put an honest effort into every game, and there is no reason why the Packers shouldn’t win out.
I’m not being cocky when I say Green Bay is undeniably better than every one else in the league. They’ve proven it by winning 19 straight games. Ideally, both the Bears game on Christmas and the Lions game on New Year’s Day will both be like the Raiders game this weekend, which will gave Matt Flynn over a quarter of game experience.
If the Packers are up by 10 or more at halftime in either game, pull the starters. Green Bay proved against Oakland that they can get a bit lackadaisical with a big lead, so there’s no chance risking injury to any more of our studs. Give Flynn reps, work out the backup lineman, make sure the reserve secondary knows what it’s doing in coverage.
If it’s closer than 10, or if the Packers are trailing, keep the starters in. Chicago and Detroit are both playoff-caliber teams, so simulating a playoff game without it really counting could only give Green Bay valuable repetitions and experience. The drive that Rodgers put together at the end of the Giants game two weeks ago is not something he is called on to do very often, but he proved to himself and the team that he could, not that anyone was actually doubting him.