It would be easy for the Green Bay Packers to look past the 1-5 Cleveland Browns this weekend in anticipation of Favre Bowl II the following weekend (Nov. 1), when Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field as a Minnesota Viking.
The Vikings’ visit is easily one of the most anticipated games in Packers history, and could be one of the most memorable. A lot will be at stake, too. The Packers (3-2) currently sit in second place in the NFC North behind the 6-0 Vikings and already lost the first matchup between the two teams in September. They’ll need to win the second if they hope to have any chance at the division crown. A win could also have huge playoff implications come the end of the season.
Let’s not forget (like we could) that this will also be Favre’s first time in Lambeau wearing a jersey other than Green Bay’s. The skies won’t rain locusts and the rivers won’t turn to blood, but you’d think there was a chance given the media hype already building.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tony Grossi touches on this in a column Tuesday, noting that Packers coach Mike McCarthy has a a tough job making sure his team doesn’t overlook the Browns.
“The Packers players might be professional enough not to look beyond the Browns, but they are only human. All of Packer Nation is bracing for Favre’s first visit to Lambeau wearing a uniform other than Green Bay’s. It will be one of the most anticipated games in the illustrious history of the franchise, which dates to 1923.
McCarthy has to somehow get his team up to play a Browns team that not only is 1-5 but was non-competitive in a preseason meeting Aug. 15 in Green Bay. The Packers won by only a 17-0 score, but scored at will and yielded nothing when both team’s starters played.”
Not much has changed since that exhibition game for Cleveland. Their quarterback situation remains unclear – mostly because neither Derrick Anderson or Brady Quinn has proven capable. The Browns offense is stagnant and their defense still gives up a lot of yardage. They’re now also without their leading tackler in linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who will miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury.
Despite the Browns clear deficiencies, we’ve covered the unimpressive nature of the Packers 26-0 shutout of the lowly Detroit Lions, last Sunday. The Packers are committing way too many penalties, giving up too many sacks and the running game is non-existent. Cleveland is coming off a stinging 27-14 loss to rival Pittsburgh and will be hungry for its second win of the season.
The Browns should be a cakewalk, but the Packers must focus and not prematurely turn their attention to the Vikings.
There’s too much at stake.