But then Harrell closed the preseason on Thursday looking more like than Erin Moran for once in a 24-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. For a fan base eager to erase the memory of the Fail Mary in last year’s playoffs, it was the sort of performance — in a meaningless game, to be sure — that should turn the optimism up to 11.
The Packers were 15-1 in the regular season, winning 14 games to open the season and establishing themselves as easily the best team in football. Rodgers played brilliantly at quarterback all season to earn NFL Most Valuable Player honors. Then, with an inglorious thud, the Packers were eliminated by the New York Giants at Lambeau Field in a first-round playoff game.
Green Bay enters this season still considered among the favorites to reach Super Bowl XLVII, but it won’t be easy. The Chicago Bears were nearly as good as the Packers last year until Jay Cutler was hurt, and now he has a top receiver in Brandon Marshall. The are a team on the move, also with a remarkable passing attack. And the NFL extracts a steep price for complacency or slippage of any kind.
Did the Packers do enough to reach the regular-season summit again? Will other teams manage to bring them back to earth a bit? Or is this season going to feel like a bad movie starring Ray Rhodes? Vote in our poll for how many games the Packers will win, then expound on your prediction in the comments.