If there's one thing the NFL does better than just about everyone else in the world, it is hype.
There's no story too small for the league to turn into a media firestorm and they've gotten so good at stoking the fires that it sometimes seems like the off-season generates more attention than the games themselves. Given this ability, it's a bit odd that it has felt like the 15-1, defending Super Bowl champion Packers, have been flying under the radar this season.
Odd, perhaps, but totally understandable. The hype machine is so big and so good at what it does that any story that crops up over the course of the season inevitably grabs hold of all the oxygen in the room and leaves nowhere for the consistent greatness of the Pack to go to get attention.
In a year where an unquantifiable amount of time was spent talking about Tim Tebow, Aaron Rodgers' MVP season got little more than nods from the gallery. That remained true even as Drew Brees was feted for breaking the record for passing yards in a season that stood for nearly 20 years, even though almost no one found Brees' greatness worthy of votes for the All-Pro team.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Whether it was concussions, Ndamukong Suh's behavior, Jets dysfunction, Jerome Simpson flipping into the end zone, quarterback injuries, coaching changes or TEBOWMANIA PLAYOFF EDITION, there was always something that shunted the Packers off into a corner.
Even now that the postseason is upon us and the spotlight has narrowed onto the teams still in position to win the Super Bowl, the Packers are finding it hard to grab any for themselves. They've won 15 games this season, 21 of their last 22 overall, and haven't lost at Lambeau Field since Week Six of the 2010 season, yet all anyone can talk about this week is the fact that the Giants beat a Packers team led by a different quarterback four years ago.
The Packers have beaten the Giants twice since then with Rodgers at quarterback, including a one-sided rout last season at Lambeau when the Giants' season was on the line. That doesn't mean that the same thing will happen this time and it doesn't mean the Giants can't win, but it does suggest that we've become a bit numb to how good the Packers have been over the recent past.
If it wasn't for the Discount Double Check commercials, you might even forget the Packers exist. So let's thank their existence for that and absolutely nothing else.
At least there's a happy ending to this. If the Packers lose this weekend, the hype factory will have plenty of grist for the mill. You can already imagine the columns talking about the distractions caused by the death of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's son and the talking heads bursting at the seams about the perils of resting players before the postseason. Throw in a small portion of revisionist historians claiming the Packers weren't that good in the first plalce and you've got quite a recipe for hypeburgers.
There's no trouble if the Packers win, either. Then we'll get a week about the inevitability of their repeat and overwrought discussion about the special character of Lambeau Field.
Either way, flying under the radar time has come to an end.