The old AFL blues

Packers have traditionally struggled in Denver and Kansas City

As the Green Bay Packers are about to embark on a two game road trip to two cities that were in the original AFL, the American Football League, it got me thinking. It doesn't seem like the Packers with their rich history, seem to play very well against old AFL opponents. They don't. The Packers are 37-55-2 against teams that were in the old AFL. Plus, the Pack has never won in Buffalo, Denver or New York vs. the Jets.

First some history. The original AFL was composed in 1960 by the Buffalo Bills, the New York Titans (later the Jets), the Dallas Texans (later the Kansas City Chiefs), The Boston Patriots (later New England), the Los Angeles Chargers (later San Diego), the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers (later the Tennessee Titans). The Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals were later added as expansion teams later in the 1960's.

In 1970, the old AFL and NFL merged into one league. That decision was set into motion prior to 1966, when both leagues began to play what is now called the Super Bowl. The Packers and Chiefs of course played in the first one with the Packers winning 35-10. Before Super Bowl I, coach Vince Lombardi referred to the AFL as a "Mickey Mouse" league to his players. Lombardi and NFL owners like George Halas of the Bears absolutely hated the AFL.

The NFL in 1970 became two conferences, the NFC and AFC. The AFC also took 3 teams that were previously in the NFL. They were the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis), the Pittsburgh Steelers and the old Cleveland Browns (now the Baltimore Ravens). The AFC than added some more expansion teams like the new Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans which now brings the number of teams in the AFC to 16, the same number as the NFC.

But as I mentioned earlier, the Packers have never won in three old AFL cities, including Denver. By the way, the Packers have only won once in their history in places like Kansas City, Miami and Oakland. So although the Packers are 5-1 in 2007, history has sort of a slanted negative view when playing old AFL opponents, and most definitely going to their venues.

As the Packers travel to Denver and Kansas City the next couple of weeks, history also plays a part in post-season play ... namely the Super Bowl. As I said, the Packers played and beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl I. Besides the original Super Bowl, the Packers are 2-1 in other Super Bowls having defeated the Raiders 33-14 in Super Bowl II (with Lombardi again as coach) and the Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI and also lost to the Broncos 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII.

A lot of fans still remember that loss to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. Some of us think that it was coaching decisions by Mike Holmgren that contributed to the loss. Decisions like not letting Dorsey Levens get more carries in the second half of that game. The game on Monday night will bring back some of those memories. Mike Shanahan is still the head coach of the Broncos like he was in Super Bowl XXXII. Jason Elam is still the kicker and Rod Smith still a receiver for the Broncos.

Brett Favre is still the quarterback for the Packers like he was in Super Bowl XXXII and Rob Davis still does the long snapping. Now even though the Packers have never won in Denver, the Packers recently have destroyed the Broncos at Lambeau Field. The last two times the Broncos played in Green Bay, the Packers won 31-3 in 2003 and 41-6 in 1996. I'm sure the Broncos were thinking about that 1996 game leading up to Super Bowl XXXII.

So what will happen on this two game road trip to Denver and Kansas City? As I said, history paints a bleak picture. But the 2007 Packers have already written a good story and they can definitely beat both of those squads at their homes. Mike McCarthy is 7-3 on the road. He is also 1-0 after bye weeks.

Like always, limiting turnovers will be the key. Both Denver and Kansas City have boisterous fans. Playing error free football can definitely take the fans out of the game. As I said, the Packers have a rich history. A history that can even be richer with wins in locations like Denver and Kansas City. If nothing else, the Packers should play those games thinking about the old NFL.

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