On Nov. 8, the mood in Packerland was dire. Green Bay had just lost to previously winless Tampa Bay, 38-28, blowing the 11-point lead it held with 12 minutes to go. The Packers stood at 4-4 while the Minnesota Vikings, now featuring a guy named Brett Favre, were 7-1.
"If you're looking for the first sign that the Packers under [head coach Mike] McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson aren't on the road to becoming the playoff team they think they are, this incomprehensible loss was it," wrote Tom Oates in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Since then, the Packers are 6-1 and assured of a place in the playoffs. In the first round, Green Bay could face Dallas, Philadelphia, Minnesota or even Arizona, its opponent in the regular-season finale on Sunday. The only for-sure thing is that Green Bay, as a wild-card team, won't host a playoff game at Lambeau Field.
Of course, the opponent that gets even the calmest Packer fans hyperventilating is Minnesota. If the Vikings and Dallas both lose next Sunday, the Packers could end up in Minneapolis against Favre.
The Vikings dominated the teams' two regular-season match-ups, sacking Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers a total of 14 times. It recalls 2004, when the Packers swept the regular-season series with Minnesota but lost to the Vikings in the playoff's wild-card round, when Favre threw four interceptions. Think the ol' gunslinger has a few more left in him?