As I begin pondering (no pun intended) the Packers' Week Seven game this Sunday at the Metrodome against the division-rival Vikings, I am struck at how dramatically different the pregame vibe seems than the one I so vividly remember before the first Packers-Vikings skirmish last season, which coincidentally also took place in Week Seven.
Not surprisingly, the major focus a year ago at this time was directed toward Brett Favre, who was expected by most observers to invade Lambeau Field with a big-time fire burning in his belly in advance of the showdown against his old team. As I'm sure you all remember, Favre definitely came to play in that game, making the Packers sweat profusely right up to the last play in a way-too-close-for-comfort 28-24 victory by Green Bay.
This season, the prospect for a similar barn-burner seems very unlikely, with Vikings first-round rookie Christian Ponder reportedly supplanting Donovan McNabb under center following the 39-10 prime-time thumping Minnesota received from a Bears team that has been very ordinary for the most part so far this season. Ponder actually looked pretty decent in garbage time in place of McNabb in that game, but does anybody really think the Vikes have a legitimate shot at ending the Packers' quest for a perfect record?
It's too early in the week to predict a final score for this game (tune in bright and early Sunday morning on your PFW Packers app for my final prediction), but my gut tells me the Packers will win handily like they did last Sunday, despite the fact their offense sleepwalked through the second half of their 24-3 victory over a severely challenged Rams team.
Which brings me to the main premise in this week's rant: a cry out for more of an impact from the Packers' rookie class this Sunday. While cranking out my weekly Packers rookie report just before turning my attention to this rant, I was quite surprised in retrospect by the minimal spark collectively provided by the Green Bay rookies. After pulling away with a 24-3 first-half lead, you'd think there might have been some real opportunities for the likes of Randall Cobb, Alex Green and Derek Sherrod, among others.
There was strong reason to believe Green might become a secret weapon worth noting based on how good he looked in limited action in the Week Five game against Atlanta. For whatever reason, though, he was inactive last Sunday.
Here's hoping for a different story this Sunday in Minnesota, where you'd think the Packers' youth could be served a lot more should the team choose to increase its rookies' playing time.