The NFC North’s Green Bay Packers were on bye last Sunday. You probably didn’t notice because Baltimore and Dallas managed to otherwise consume your kicker-meltdown attention during Week 7. But nonetheless, the Packers did take the bye seriously and prepare to return to action this Sunday at the RAMMITs of USC/UCLA.
Oof. There’s a hearty welcome back to NFL reality.
As mentioned in the Packers preview, the 2018 Packers were expected to be a potential playoff bubble team. Green Bay is now technically second in the division at 3-2-1. After the 4-2-1 Vikings setting the pace, the Lions and Bears are right there with both teams at 3-3. The North is, as the brain trust at CBS says after analyzing the parity within the NFC West and nearly jumping off a bridge, wide open.
You will recall Green Bay opened the season with Aaron Rodgers hurting his knee against the Bears but then leading the Pack to an objectively impressive late-game comeback to hobble the team to a 23-24 victory. Since then, Rodgers has looked fine though the knee will remain a concern throughout the season. After tying the Vikings and getting clobbered by Washington, Green Bay went 2-1 heading into the bye. But the two wins were at home against Buffalo and the Bethard-Faithful 49ers; the loss was at Detroit, when K Mason Crosby forgot how to Do His Job.
So the good news for Green Bay is that they are in the hunt. And with postseason veterans
Mike McCarthy and just Aaron Rodgers leading this team, Green Bay’s got something of a shot if they can make the playoffs — though a manhandling by the recently somewhat-exposed RAMMIT in Week 8 may make me reconsider. For as open as the NFC North is records-wise, it feels like Minnesota (three-game win streak) is the team to beat; Chicago (two-game losing streak, including to The Original Brock Lobster) is the pretender; and Detroit looks to be the squad best suited to take a first year head coach to the wild card and get absolutely fucking demolished on the road.
The bad news for Green Bay is their health and schedule. Already down a game to Detroit, Green Bay has AT RAMMIT, AT N*E, AT Seattle, and AT BirdMurderDome for four of their next five. Green Bay is 3-0-1 at home and winless on the road so this next month could be the make or break. Of course, the NFL isn’t hoping that as they have Green Bay hosting Detroit in Week 17 for a potential playoff spot.
Personally, I think the deck is stacked just a little too far against them. Like a woman who was nearly gang raped by an alcoholic political operative who would perjure himself as part of a conspiracy to attain a seat on the nation’s highest court which now must be dissolved, it’s not that Green Bay’s potential isn’t credible; it’s just that I and so many other white men don’t think it feels right to believe it. So we won’t.
I think they close out the year with seven wins, missing the playoffs. DeShone Kizer will end up getting a chance to shine in some game — and he will not. The Clay “Juice Me Up, Maude!” Matthews defense will have the opportunity to hold and be the reason they win a game — and the defense will falter. Green Bay has had an impressive run but it looks clear that, approaching the fork in the road that is the twilight of Aaron Rodger’s career, this franchise is going to more closely mimic the late Eli-years Giants than the late Peyton-years Broncos. Also Clay Matthews sucks.