Super Bowl Hangover
The Green Bay Packers head into the 2011 season with optimism at it's peak - and with good reason. The injury-riddled 2010 version of the Packers managed to win their way through the playoffs as a wild card and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy after a Super Bowl 45 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now the tough part: Living up to expectations that are higher than last year's, while playing every game with a moon-sized bullseye on their back.
Alex Marvez, of FOXsports.com wrote an interesting piece on how the New Orleans Saints dealt with the same issue last season.
As Marvez explains, the Saints did a pretty good job of dealing with the weekly barrage of questions, and had a decent season on the field, but it ended abruptly in the playoffs when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks shocked the NFL world with a win.
It will be impossible for the Packers to avoid the headlines, but early on, some attention has been deflected to Philadelphia where the Eagles have signed free agent prizes Namdi Asomugha and Cullen Jenkins. Ahead of those signings, the Eagles traded backup QB Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for pro-bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and a 2nd round draft choice.
The Eagles are clearly all-in, and after losing twice to the Packers last season, they realized the only way to shut down the Packers passing attack is to sack (not just pressure) Aaron Rodgers, and line-up three number 1 cornerbacks. The Eagles have put themselves in as good a position as possible - and for that, they have garnered a high level of attention.
How will the Packers handle the added pressure of being a Super Bowl champion? That remains to be seen, but my sense is that there is nothing to worry about with this team. They are well-coached, disciplined, and play in the smallest market in professional sports. The bullseye is firmly affixed to Green Bay's back, but the target will be elusive.