Alanya and I eat out at Hawthorne Fish House. It has gluten free fish and chips, which is the draw for us, but the fish houses are also Packers meccas, as the site so proudly pronounces:
The Fish Houses proudly show all Packers games. Each place has 4 screens, and the places fill up with Green Bay fans, many of them in full gear. Get there at least 15 minutes before kickoff if you want a seat!
Green Bay Wisconsin is a small city, not tiny. About 100,000 strong. The greater Green Bay metropolitan area is estimated at 300,000. Like most football teams, the Packers represent the state and the greater area and not just the city in the name. While we are sure to hear plenty about how small Green Bay is, there is nothing particularly small about Wisconsin, or the region the Packers draw their fan base from.
As evidenced by the Fish House chain, that region is the world. The Packers are perhaps the greatest bandwagon team in NFL history. Between Curly Lambeau, Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Brett Favre and a record 12 twelve league Championships, including victories in Super Bowl I and II, the Packers are storied, successful and marketable.
So maybe you'll understand when I say that I am not a Packers fan and when today's game is over, I won't think of the Packers much differently than I think of the Cowboys, Colts or Giants. But today Green Bay plays the goddamn Pittsburgh Steelers, and I will be damned if I have to watch the Steelers win another Super Bowl. Today the Packers are not just the enemy of my enemy, but my only hope as a Seahawks fan. Is it irrational to think of Pittsburgh as my enemy? Yes. Do I think Steelers fans share a reciprocal hatred towards the Seahawks? No, of course not. Is that kind of sad and pathetic? Damn straight, but I don't care. Beat em, embarrass em, anything but roll over, Green Bay. Anything but allow those despicable fucks another Championship.
That means stopping Rashard Mendenhall. Football Outsiders lists the Steelers rushing offense and the Packers rushing defense as about equal: 0.2% to -1.8%, respectively. By any other metric though, the Packers field one of the worst run defenses in football. The Packers ranked 28th in rushing yards per attempt allowed. By efficiency ranking, Green Bay rates even worse, 29th in the NFL. Rashard Mendenhall was a footnote in Football Outsiders Super Bowl preview, but I see him as the biggest non-quarterback variable in today's game. I am not as high on Mendenhall as some, but he is a first round pick from the greatest running back class I have ever witnessed, and hugely talented. He is also very young, and unlike most backs, getting better rather than worse. He isn't a moves back, really, but Mendenhall is a hard nosed interior rusher that can break tackles and break away in the open field. Dangerous. As is his ball handling. He has a tendency to swoop the ball when he runs, and that has led to five fumbles in the past two seasons. Which isn't terrible. He had eight fumbles in his final two seasons at Illinois, which is a little closer to terrible, but still is not quite there. Pittsburgh "red shirts" rookies and maybe his ball handling has improved. I hope not. I hope Charles Woodson strips the shit out of him.
My half-awake ramblings aside, this is a pregame thread.