I had the chance to interview Damon Hack of Sports Illustrated, who wrote the section on the Green Bay Packers for their NFL preview, which is out on newsstands now. In addition to the Packers, he also wrote the preview sections for the rest of the NFC North which he picked the Packers to win.
Acme Packing Company: The preview began with the two losses to the Vikings. How important is it to beat the Vikings?
Damon Hack: I think it's important since they're the next best team in the division. I talked to Aaron Rodgers who said it became such a big deal last year and Mike McCarthy agreed it had too much hype. The Packers would have won the division if they had split last year. They are the best team in the NFC North but it's good for the team and fan base to mentally get over the Favre thing.
APC: What stood out to you about Green Bay when you visited during training camp?
DH: I love how time stands still. There are trailers in the parking lots and the kids with their bikes. Walking there in the 1960s is just like in 2010. It's a real part of Americana.
APC: The article focused on their strong finish. In general is a strong finish a good predictor of the next season?
DH: Sometimes it can be. As a team that did not make any changes it spoke to their philosophy of building through the draft. They're close to the Super Bowl with what they already have. A.J. Hawk told me they ran into a juggernaut in Arizona and the game took on a life of its own. The strong finish makes you think they should contend for the Super Bowl. But Mike McCarthy said we can't just put on our helmets. They need to go on the field, play hard, and win. The talent is there. They're some really talented players.
APC: Why did you choose to put the spotlight on A.J. Hawk in the preview?
DH: Of all the defenders, he's representative of the defense as a whole. He had such great resolve this year. He's never met the expectations. Mike McCarthy said A.J. is having his best camp. He has to show some better consistency, just as the defense overall.