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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 33.0° F  Overcast
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Attention Green Bay Packers fans: Don't panic yet

Feel free to overreact, if you must, in the wake of Green Bay's season-opening loss at San Francisco Sunday. It's good, dark fun, and it's what we fans do, especially when problems from previous years seem to be back with a vengeance.

So if you want to say that Green Bay's defense can't stop anyone, go ahead. It's not true -- the Packers can handle the Jay Cutlers of the league -- but they certainly can't slow down the 49ers.

For the third time in a year, San Francisco's offense pretty much rolled the Packers, and more frustrating, the Niners used a slightly different approach and featured different stars each time. Last September, the main culprits were Alex Smith, Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree. In the playoffs, Colin Kaepernick, Gore and friends piled up 323 rushing yards. Sunday, Kaepernick threw for more than 400 yards, mostly to Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.

Everyone knows that the modern NFL tilts its rules to encourage scoring, but if the Packers plan to return to a Super Bowl anytime soon, their defense must figure out how to get off the field against the better teams. Effective NFL defenses exert pressure with their front lines or play back and shut down as many passing lanes as possible. Too often, the Packers do neither.

Enough complaining. Annoying as it is to watch opposing receivers running open all day, the Packers were missing two key backs in their secondary because of injuries. The defense did look better against the run, and Green Bay led the game midway through the fourth quarter. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and a group of talented receivers, and Eddie Lacy might finally be an upgrade at running back.

The Packers simply lost a close contest on the road to the best team in the conference. They might not play a tougher game all season.

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