Thinking ahead

As John Madden said Monday night, they don't give out trophies for being in first place on Halloween. But when the playoffs bids are dealt out, those enjoying a happy Halloween now have a better shot at one heck of a New Year.

The names in the NFC news this week include the New Orleans Saints (6-2), whose loss to the Atlanta Falcons toppled them from the conference's top spot. Former Central division rival Tampa is also 6-2. That put the Packers in the spotlight, even during their bye week, as the lone 6-1 team in the NFC.

Is it too early to crunch those numbers?

"It's still yet to be accomplished," Packer center Frank Winters said. "We have a lot of games left, and the most important game is Miami."

The Packers host the 5-2 Miami Dolphins Monday night.

Likewise, the Saints aren't worried about losing their edge - yet.

"We're fine," said Saints QB and former Packer Aaron Brooks after his team's loss Sunday. "I don't think anyone would have thought the Saints would be 6-2. We're exactly where we want to be, 6-2."

Actually, they'd probably prefer 7-1. A tie with Green Bay goes to New Orleans because the Saints handed the Packers their only loss so far, a 35-20 decision in week 2.

Coach Mike Sherman referred to that game as the biggest disappointment of the first half of the season.

"I didn't think we played very well or very passionate," coach Mike Sherman said. I didn't think we put our best foot forward in that game."

That loss to their closest NFC pursuer, coupled with a huge lead in the North Division, is what has Packer fans talking playoff positioning already.

Lambeau in the winter is a great place for a playoff game, unless of course you happen to root for a dome team from the South.


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