I kid you not. The first thing I thought when I heard that Aaron Rodgers would not be playing tomorrow was, "Crap." I know it seems completely crazy to be upset when your opponent's starting quarterback is out of the lineup and your team has the chance to feast on his inferior backup, but I just don't have the best feeling about this whole situation. You see, the general consensus heading into this weekend was that Pats/Packers would be a really tight contest of Rodgers was involved. However, if Aaron Rodgers was a no-go, then the Patriots were going to have Christmas come a few days early as they easily downed Green Bay. Now, please excuse me for pulling out the tired "National Football League" cliche' that plagues every single pre-game show but "This is the National Football League!" There are no "gimmee" games. There is no team that comes wrapped up with a nice fancy bow like a Christmas present. I don't care who the opposing quarterback is, the second that you get cocky or underestimate your opponent is the second you get handed a slice of humble pie with a big fat scoop of loss on top.
The absolute last thing in the world that this Patriots team, who has heard everyone sing their praises non-stop the past week, is a reason to let down their guard and think they've won a game before they've even stepped on the field. I would much, much rather see this young defense get amped up to take on one of the league's premiere young quarterbacks, then see them get complacent because Matt Flynn is on tap. The fact of the matter is that I was extremely confident that the Patriots would take down the Packers with Aaron Rodgers, especially a freshly concussed Aaron Rodgers who didn't practice all week or take part in team meetings. Having Matt Flynn at the helm for Green Bay opens the door for the Patriots to get sloppy and beat themselves.
I hope the words of caution that I know Bill Belichick is beating down their throats makes an impact on this young defense. I hope that Week 9 embarrassment against the Browns remains fresh on everyone's minds. Whether it's Aaron Rodgers, or Mr. Rogers at quarterback, the focus for New England needs to be the same. The Patriots haven't won anything yet. Not the AFC East, not a first-round bye, not the top record in the conference, not a playoff game, not the Super Bowl, and certainly not tomorrow night's game. There's no reason for them to act like they have. I think tomorrow night's contest will give us a very clear look into the mentality of this team. If they play with a purpose, it will be yet another blowout. If they take their foot off the gas and let the Packers stick around, it could be a very shocking and unhappy night.
And by the way, was this not the scariest puppet ever? Who thought that it was kid-friendly? I seriously had nightmares about this puppet growing up.