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William C. Altreuter
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bears-Packers is so old school it's irresistible. Two classic NFL teams, traditional rivals, playing in weather, the way it is supposed to be done. I like the Packers in this one, mostly because Aaron Rodgers has had a season that suggests he is becoming one of the league's elite quarterbacks.

Watching athletes and teams become something is one of the great joys in sports, isn't it? When we had Mets tickets back in the 80s it was fun to watch Gary Carter being the best catcher in baseball, but it was even more fun to look out to right field and think about what Darryl Strawberry might be. When Darryl's high school classmate, Eric Davis would come to town it was fun to watch him and think that we might be seeing two players that might become among the all-time greats. That it didn't work out that way didn't spoil the pleasure we took in thinking about it in the moment. In the NFL it seems like it is a somewhat more gradual process, I think.  Teams get better until they are just about nearly there, and then they either break through or fall apart. It took a couple of seasons for this Indianapolis Colts team to become as good as it is, and now I'm thinking that this Jets team may be arriving. Don't get me wrong-- I'm  not a Jets fan, as such. I left the Jets when I left NYC, and I have no intention of backsliding. The years of pain they put me through were relieved as soon as I arrived in the Queen City of the Lakes and realized that the Bills were a Better Way, and I got here just in time to apprechiate them going from terrible to pretty good to "Wow, They Are Amazing!" Still, I respect what Rex has done with the Jets: more than Parcells could, or Belichick wanted to. They seem like they are poised to join the league's elite. They are knocking on the door.

The Steelers, on the other hand, feature a QB who is the embodiment of entitled-athlete loathsomeness. The Jets have come up with an answer for two of the best teams in the league, but this game looks like the toughest thing they've had to deal with yet.I think this will come down to defense, and defensive coaching, and I'm thinking that Rex may have the edge there.

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