One for the road

Beating the Giants in New York will be another big step forward for Packers

If the 2007 Green Bay Packers are going to have a successful season, the team will have to become a force at Lambeau Field again. But they will also have to be effective on the road. In 2006, head coach Mike McCarthy's inaugural season, the team was 3-5 at home and 5-3 on the road. The Packers have done better at home in 2007 as the Pack won the opener against the Philadelphia Eagles 16-13. But the road must still be a place to win some games.

The Packers almost always use to win at home. From 1995-2003, the Packers were 61-11 at Lambeau Field. 1995 was the first season that the Packers started playing exclusively at Lambeau. But from 2004-2006, Green Bay was only 10-14 at home. Plus the Packers lost their first ever playoff game at home losing to the Atlanta Falcons at the end of the 2002 season and the Minnesota Vikings at the end of the 2004 season. Before the Falcon defeat, Green Bay had never lost a home playoff game going 12-0 before that loss.

Hopefully the win against the Eagles will set the table for home victories. But the Packers also have to get it done on the road. The Packers have actually been a pretty good road team as of late, if you throw out the 2005 season when the Packers were 1-7 on the road. From 2001 on, and excluding 2005, the Packers were 25-15.

The Packers first road test of 2007 is Sunday against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. The Packers have won two straight against New York at the Meadowlands in both 1998 and 2001. Green Bay will also have other road tests in 2007. Besides their NFC North opponents, the Pack will also face the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams on the road.

None of those last four non-NFC North opponents will be easy at their home venues. That is why it is so important to beat the Giants while they are a little nicked up and for the 2007 season to get off to an excellent start. The Packers must also try and pick up all of the NFC North games on the road like they did in 2006.

Besides their road tests, the Packers will also host the San Diego Chargers in game three of the season at Lambeau. That is why it is so important to get off on a good start on the road against the Giants. Being 2-0 and facing the Chargers, who are an AFC favorite for the Super Bowl, is a lot different then being 1-1 and coming off a loss and playing the Chargers.

Getting off to a good start in 2007 is a big key for coach McCarthy and his staff. A 2-0 start would probably have the Lambeau crowd at a playoff pitch for the Chargers game. A victory over the Chargers would then firmly place the Packers on the NFC contender's map. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The team has to win has to win at the Meadowlands first.

But the stars are lining up for the Packers. QB Eli Manning and DE Osi Umenyiora are both questionable for the game. Manning has a separated shoulder and Umenyiora has a tender knee. Bruising RB Brandon Jacobs is definitely out of the game with a knee injury. Plus, the Giants defense was torched for 478 yards by the Dallas Cowboys last week. This could be the week the Packer offense gets on track.

Green Bay has injury concerns as well as Greg Jennings may miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury and Carlyle Holiday may miss the game with a knee injury. Plus, it looks like Vernand Morency won't play again this week because of the knee injury he suffered the first day of practice.

Still, the Packers can help make the 2007 season get off to a great start with a win in New Jersey. The Giants defense can help right the ship of the Packer offense that only had 215 yards last week against the Eagles, including 46 rushing yards. I look for the Packers to get off to a 2-0 start and then it's bring on the Chargers. Bring on LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers? Well, I guess that means that Packer football is back on the national scene. That also means winning the BIG games at home and ALSO on the road.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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