You’ve gotta believe, right?
The Packers have had an up-and-down season long before Aaron Rodgers went down to injury. Since losing their best player, the Packers have established that their basement without Rodgers is pretty low and their best without him, surprisingly, can resemble something of a competent football team. Matt Flynn, the quarterback that nobody wants, really seems to excel with the green and gold. Is he inching towards his second big contract or does he come with an additional buyer beware this go round?
Much like their Super Bowl winning season in 2010, the Packers are in a situation where their back is against the wall and the only way out is straight ahead. If they want to make the playoffs, they have to win. The last two weeks, it looked bleak at times. Down 26-3 at the half to the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers outscored Dallas 34-10 in the second half to manage an improbable 37-36 win on-the-road. Down 21-10 at the half the previous week to the Atlanta Falcons, a 12-0 second half gave them a 22-21 win. The Packers are a +2 in point differential the past two weeks and in spite of it all, I’m surprisingly impressed.
I’ve long since felt that point differential is a great measure of a team and with enough of a sample size, it gives a better read on the measure of a team more so than their record. The New York Jets are 6-8 this year, need I say more? With that said, it doesn’t exactly shine a light on the Packers.
In the time since Aaron Rodgers went down to injury, the Packers have managed a -63 point differential. In seven weeks. Only nine teams in the league have amassed a worse point differential on the full season, a real who’s who including Jacksonville, Washington, Oakland, New York Jets and Giants. In the weeks leading up to the Rodgers injury, the Packers were an impressive +54 in their point differential. Considering the swing in their point differential, it is amazing that they have managed to stay in the playoff race.
Packers Nation may not want to get ahead of themselves too quickly though, ESPN has reported that Rodgers is still not cleared to play. If he cannot return in time for this weeks’ game, the Packers remain with a punchers shot with backup QB Matt Flynn, however if they can hold on long enough for #12 to be back under center, the team may quickly go from pretender-to-contender. The team was 5-2 at the time of Rodgers’ injury and an argument could be made they were not far from being a perfect 7-0.
With remaining games against the Steelers and Bears, the Packers still have a tall order ahead of themselves. But this team in Green Bay has consistently excelled when it was win-or-go-home. When they won the Super Bowl in 2010, it was the Chicago Bears who had a chance to eliminate them in the final week of the regular season. Jump ahead three years and we just might find ourselves in the same spot next week, the Bears with an opportunity to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs.
I think Packers fans are more than comfortable with that scenario.
The Packers, are they too legit to quit? Or just walking a little bow-legged with a horse shoe nowhere to be seen?
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.
Football fans…check out our two partnered NFL podcasts – Thursday Night Tailgate Radio and Overtime Ireland. Both shows bring you interesting commentary, critical analysis and fantastic guests including former and current NFL players, coaches and personalities.
Photo: (Creative Commons)