Green Bay won on Monday night against the Lions. In other words, the Packers successfully punched their own personal punching bag.
The notion that the expected victory against the Lions — which came despite a leaky defense that benefited from the combination of a leaky second-half sky and Jared Goff‘s undersized hands — somehow expunges all evidence of the Week One disaster in Jacksonville is ludicrous. The Packers won a game they were supposed to win. They were favored by 11.5 points, and they still had to sweat out a back-door cover in the closing minutes.
Losing the game outright would have meant a lot more than winning it means.
If the Packers want to re-establish themselves as an NFC power, they need to follow the Monday prime-time win with a Sunday prime-time win, when they face the 49ers in Santa Clara. Last year, the Packers beat an overmatched San Francisco team there. The year before, the Packers gave up 37 points in each of a pair of games played there, culminating in a resounding defeat in the NFC Championship.
So spare me the Aaron Rodgers complaints about the justifiable criticism the team absorbed after a Week One no-show. It wasn’t “bullshit” from “trolls.” It was a fair assessment of the situation. A blowout loss to the Saints in Jacksonville, seven days before the Saints got outclassed by the Panthers in Charlotte.
Rodgers shouldn’t act surprised when he gets criticized for a bad game. He benefits, and arguably relishes, his celebrity. He parlayed it into a shot at hosting Jeopardy! He’ll surely leverage it in some way when his playing career ends. If you want the spotlight and perform poorly in it, you get the scrutiny.
The strong performance against an overmatched gang of putative kneecap biters on Monday night ultimately means jack squat. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers hope to bend the early-season narrative in the direction of a potential Super Bowl season, they need to beat the 49ers on Sunday night. And it wouldn’t hurt to chase that with a victory over the Steelers a week later.