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NEW ORLEANS -- It's a beautiful, sunny morning here in Louisiana, an appropriate outlook for Saints fans who watched their team put a historic drubbing on Green Bay.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Saints' 51 points were the third-highest total by one team in the history of "Monday Night Football." (The record is 55, set by Indianapolis in 1988.) Meanwhile, the teams' combined 80 points rank as the fifth-highest total in MNF history.
The Packers were scheduled to return to Green Bay at about 5 a.m. ET and don't have much time to prepare for 8-3 Carolina. And a week after watching Green Bay slam Chicago 37-3, longtime Packers observers don't know what to make of this team.
The Packers are too inconsistent to pass positive judgment on, writes Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal:
"[A]s we have found out repeatedly with the Packers, there is no reason to think they can do something until they actually go out and do it. Every game, it seems, one or two areas of the team fail them."
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette was downright alarmed:
"They were embarrassed badly by the Saints, 51-29, and a performance like that invites serious questions about their status as a contender. ... It's hard to imagine the Packers, with their defense playing so poorly in such a crucial game, going anywhere but home for the post-season."
I'll play the contrarian on this one. Sitting here Tuesday morning, I think I probably overreacted in suggesting Monday night that the Packers might be out of the NFC North race. Five games is plenty of time to overcome a one-game deficit, especially when both divisional competitors remain flawed. Jon of Toronto wrote the mailbag note that settled me down:
"Kevin, don't react week to week or game to game. Clearly the Packers are a young Jekyll & Hyde team that could go in any direction the rest of the season, but to suggest it could now be a 2-horse race because they're half a game back (they still own the 3-way tie breaker) is ridiculous. Minnesota could lose the Williams' for a few weeks, and the Pack get to play the Bears again, so while this was a brutal game and a key loss, this race is far from over."
Fair enough. Now, on to the rest of the NFC North: