All Gas, No Brakes December for Packers

No fancy stats or deep dives here today, just a straight-up narrative.  The Green Bay Packers are back and they need a strong December to finish the 2019 season.

Sitting at 9-3, the Packers have secured a winning season and are in a good spot for a high playoff seed in the NFC.  With the Minnesota Vikings' recent loss to Seattle, Green Bay needs only win three of their last four games to secure the division title.

If this team is truly all about "all gas, no brake" (keeping this PG), that scenario isn't enough.  

This last month isn't going to be an easy one for Green Bay, despite what the schedule and analysts say.  Home games against Washington and the Chicago Bears seem very winnable but the games still have to be played.  Road games at Minnesota and Detroit have never proven easy, records aside.

Green Bay should be favored in at least three of those four games and has to win those games.  A late season brain fart or showing like they had against the Chargers is going to become a huge "what could have been" in the narrative of the 2019 season.

Washington is trying to build confidence for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins but they're in Green Bay and the Packers are 13-point favorites.  Can't lose that one.  Can.  Not.  

The Bears think they're in the midst of a "table run" and have a shot at a wild card spot.  Head coach Matt Nagy will bring every bit of arsenal with him to Lambeau Field in two weeks.  Pity, his quarterback has to come too.  But those who scoff at a possible loss here should recall a late-season meeting in Green Bay between these teams in 2015.  I'll leave that there.

If the Packers have aspirations of being the one or two seed, the Monday Night game in Minnesota is a biggie.  It's the toughest game on the Packers' remaining schedule.  Green Bay has lost all three times in that building and all three times, they've looked very average at best.  Those who recall the struggles the Packers had at the old Metrodome should be familiar with the woes that traveling to Minnesota can bring. 

A lot can change with teams winning or losing unexpectedly, but it would seem that a win over the Vikings would all but secure the division title for the Packers.  As mentioned earlier, even with a loss in Minnesota, the Packers still hold the key to the NFC North title if they win their other three games.

Grabbing the one or two seed will require help, as the San Francisco 49ers have both a better record and a head-to-head win over the Packers.  The Seahawks and Saints both have better records as well an would likely need to lose twice for the Packers to leapfrog them.  It's never ideal to rely on other teams to do the dirty work, but we've been here before.  It's part of the deal and it makes temporary fans out of us for teams we would otherwise never support.

Anything can happen.  The Packers need to keep themselves in position to steal one of those top spots if they come open.  It's hyperbole to say these last four games are "must win" for Green Bay, but as competitive as the NFC is this season, it may take 13 wins to get a playoff bye.  To get there, the Packers have to win out.

A playoff bye.  After the last two seasons and just days removed from the one-year anniversary of the firing of Mike McCarthy, we're talking about a possible playoff bye.  Most will appreciate the magnitude.  Some won't be satisfied until the Packers win it all and go undefeated.  At least we have a very meaningful last month of Packers ball to look forward to!

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (27)

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ILPackerBacker's picture

December 04, 2019 at 01:19 pm

Write a smart, rational column and not a comment. Try adding a phrase or 2 about Rodgers holding the ball, refusing open receivers and you will get all sorts of up votes

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 04, 2019 at 01:38 pm

At your service.sir. Sorry for the 10 second delay since the article's posting.

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 04, 2019 at 01:36 pm

The Packers are trying to get back on the true ' Pack is Back ' mantra but they are also trying equally hard to prevent it.

Yes,they most likely will make the playoffs as I bet by virtue of them getting at least 10 wins,but those wins haven't suggested a ' Coming Back ' party as some are beginning to squeal since that ' glorious ' victory over the GMen in less than real stellar play on both sides of the ball.

The obvious flaws of this team can be hidden against some teams but can be exploited to levels of shame by others. It's literally a week to week question of what will transpire on the field and that is not indicative of any ' Pack is Back ' mantra or sense of security that it will be corrected even against the team whose offense covets the bottom of near all categories...Washington.

Let me hear now all the screams about on any given Sunday. Yes, it's true, but this cannot be held to such regard at this point in the season. They are making the final push to ready themselves for the most arduous quarter of the season and failing to extinguish out those flaws in YOUR game, especially against bottom-dwellers, cannot help but leave the ' Pack is Back ' mantra folded away for yet another season.

With that said...
GOPACKGO
and let's get the flaws extinguished for good starting this week.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 05, 2019 at 11:08 am

Could it be perhaps that my reference to play YOUR game in another post might have resonated with you.

In reflecting on what that meant, I suppose I mean that the Packers should play the game that they're capable of. Whether that is what we see on the field remains to be seen. We have seen it before at times. We now need to see it when it matters most. Especially against the Vikings.

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porupack's picture

December 04, 2019 at 02:10 pm

Taryn,
Your comment could fit identically substituting Vikings, Patriots, Rams, Chiefs, Titans, Texans for the Pack. Only teams that seem nearly complete are Saints, 9ers, s'hawks, Ravens.
In other words, Packers are square in the 2nd tier, and, that is pretty amazing considering where we were a year ago as Jason points out.
Its a good thing to not be happy nor content with the level of play so far, but it has also been a good year so far in stealing a lot of wins by cunning and opportunism. Let's hope the team begins to peak in January.

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 04, 2019 at 02:31 pm

" Your comment could fit identically substituting Vikings, Patriots, Rams, Chiefs, Titans, Texans for the Pack. Only teams that seem nearly complete are Saints, 9ers, s'hawks, Ravens."

It could indeed, but we're talking about the Packers here and I hope the Packers aren't saying same and think it OK that they fit that mold but want to break from it.

The Packers need to get as complete as possible to enhance the chances against those teams who are complete as you mentioned. This game needs to be much more than defeating a bad team,this game needs to be the start of erasing the flaws that keep them from being complete or close to it.

This cannot be a bad looking win over a bad team.

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porupack's picture

December 04, 2019 at 02:16 pm

was that all gas, and no brakes? or breaks. I think we should like a few more breaks, at least in the area of yellow flags, and injuries. Its been pretty good fortune so far this year.

Fully agree, that no opponent should be taken lightly. It was good that Redskins won their game last weekend, to serve notice not to be overlooked. Same for Bears.

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 05, 2019 at 08:26 am

Who have the Niners beaten that would label them one of the dominant teams in the NFC?

They have fattened themselves up on several weak teams and caught the Packers flat footed at the opening kickoff....but that won’t happen again should they play again.

But the top shelf teams they met, Ravens and Seahawks, they lost looking average.

Seahawks and Saints in the NFC both look very balanced and a tough draw. Niners? Nah, not so much.

Pack needs to win the North. Playoffs start Sunday.

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sam1's picture

December 04, 2019 at 02:54 pm

Little rose colored glasses here about the Packers I would say! They didn't catch the Packers flat footed, it is really how bad the Packers are and have been lucky to have had 9 wins. Don't think I am not a Packer fan, but in reality we are not much above an average team!

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 04, 2019 at 04:27 pm

Rose colored glasses about the Packers?

Yet you “color” your comment about “how bad the Packers are”...and “how lucky they are to have had nine wins.”

Beating the Bears, Vikings, Lions, Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs, Cowboys, Panthers and Giants is not “luck”. It is good football in the parity infused NFL. This is not the record of a “bad team”.

And I would definitely say their victories compare quite well to the Niners wins over the Bucs, Bengals, Steelers, Browns, Rams, Redskins, Panthers, Cardinals (twice), and the Pack. Of those only the Pack is a likely playoff team.

Who is wearing the shades?

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sam1's picture

December 04, 2019 at 04:47 pm

You!

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flackcatcher's picture

December 04, 2019 at 10:25 pm

NO YOU!(running away now....:-)

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egbertsouse's picture

December 04, 2019 at 08:51 pm

What’s your point? It seems to be that the Packers are just as good as SF because of a little bit tougher schedule but that would be ludicrous since the 49ers crushed GB. So what is your real point?

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 05, 2019 at 08:25 am

That an entire NFL season is not defined by ONE GAME. That is my point. It is defined by a minimum of 16 + games. And so far the Packers are having a good year...are not a “bad team” or are simply “lucky”.

The Niners are a good team, but some here seem to think they are the Packers of the 60’s because they beat the 8-2 Packers as well as several losing, mediocre teams.

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splitpea1's picture

December 04, 2019 at 03:35 pm

I wouldn't want to play San Francisco on their field again. The Packers weren't just "flat-footed", they were physically manhandled. I think the Packers would have a better shot against either Seattle or New Orleans, even though both these teams may be more balanced.

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madtowndan's picture

December 04, 2019 at 03:58 pm

I agree with you and sam1. The Pack just isn't that impressive, and that shows against teams with really solid defenses (like the 49ers). And when that happens, the Packers defense isn't stout enough to hold the other team down. We were lucky to catch the Bears on an off day for their D (plus they had no film to study at that point). Thankfully, the next Bear game is at Lambeau, but that's no guarantee either.

My take on the rest of the season is the Pack beats the 'skins and Lions, and loses to the Vikings in Minnie. Which makes me pray that home field advantage will be enough to get another W against the Bears.

But I just don't see a deep playoff run for this team. They're just not quite there yet. They still need some tuning and a little more talent.

I sincerely hope they prove me wrong!

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porupack's picture

December 05, 2019 at 07:03 am

a) they have talented roster, well before they somewhat solved their QB problem, b) they execute well, and are clearly well coached, c) they beat teams and didn't play down to the level of poor teams when they played them (unlike GB with chargers, Eagles). d) They dominate even if the score doesn't always reflect that. e) they blew GB out of the stadium even with key players injured. f) those 2 top shelf teams feature extraordinary athletic QBs, and no NFL team has quite figured out how to neutralize an uber-run threat QB, while handling all of the other disadvantages that Defenses have to deal with in this modern era football (i.e., bias to offenses). Wilson, Jackson, Mahomes make a lot of teams look average.

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Lphill's picture

December 04, 2019 at 03:23 pm

The Packers have improved from last season but still a ways to go , need improvement at middle linebacker and a dominant D lineman with Clark, some may down vote me but maybe Gary is that guy , a few more pounds and move him around the D line and he just might be that missing link. Still a successful season but I don’t know if they have what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.

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NitschkeFan's picture

December 04, 2019 at 05:33 pm

I remember Peyton Manning's first SB winning season. He played like an MVP for much of the season but his defense was less than mediocre despite having two excellent pass-rushing DE's (Mathis and Freeney). But come playoffs the Colt's defense really stiffened and played much better than they had during the regular season. They really carried the team for a couple of those playoff victories.

Manning did not have to carry the team by himself and that is when he finally "broke through" and won his first ring.

I think of that season and hope the Packers can pull a similar stunt. The defense is below average, we have a couple of very good pass rushers (the Smith's), and perhaps the defense can turn it around and play a good stretch of games in the playoffs. Without such a turnaround the team will not go deep in the playoffs.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 04, 2019 at 08:18 pm

Sanders returned from injury and ignited the squad. Tony Dungy keep the ship steady as she goes and players stepped up.

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Lphill's picture

December 04, 2019 at 06:24 pm

I don’t think Blake Martinez can turn things around, he seems lost sometimes , out of position to make plays , yes he may lead in tackles but he may lead in missed tackles as well .

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 04, 2019 at 08:22 pm

Playing zone defense does n't mean watching guys run past you like a statue. It gives you a chance to read and recognize then attack. Best to bring him on the blitz and keep him out of coverage.

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pacman's picture

December 04, 2019 at 06:28 pm

We would all be happy with 9-3 if the Packers were not totally embarrassed in California twice. Just a reasonable showing would have been enough to say - ok, we are close. But those 2 losses bring up the possibility that we are not nearly as good as 9-3 would imply. So until we beat 49ers, NO or Seattle, and show that we can play a complete game and adjust as needed, we are not in their league. The game in Minn will probably tell us a lot. If we even come close to losing any other game, it will show us as a medium/good team. But not a SB contender.

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Packfangirl's picture

December 04, 2019 at 08:21 pm

I am so not a football expert. I think our team has done well considering new coaches and new scheme...its not just the quarterback who had to learn new plays etc...I am just going to enjoy this season no matter how it turns out..I'm still an optimistic fan!! GO PACK GO!!!

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 05, 2019 at 08:18 am

I'm with you 100%, Packfangirl. I realize this team isn't going to dominate in their remaining regular season games and waltz to a Super Bowl victory. But from a strength-based view, the Packers have strengths many teams do not, as well as some weaknesses consistently exploited by opponents. We're 9-3 and undefeated in the NFC North. All Paw-sah-tives as we use to say in the Pad Level Era.

I had a friend, a Forester, who worked to combat Dutch Elm disease. It got to the point for him where he could not appreciate the view of woodlands because he only saw the diseased trees. I choose not to do that with this team. There is an awful lot right with the Green Bay Packers. if I base my perceptive on how none of the successes to date matter because we won't make a deep playoff run/lack this or that/can't win against XX opponent, then what's the point? There are so many what ifs week-to-week in this league. I'm going to continue to take it a week at a time and enjoy the ride.

Go Pack Go!

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flackcatcher's picture

December 04, 2019 at 10:41 pm

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I happy with the overall direction of the team. Could this team have ended up like the last two years, injury riddled with no replacements. Yes. Lets not forget that this team was in the playoff hunt till wave of injuries wiped out both their secondary and offensive line. No team can survive those setbacks and win in this league. We knew what losing Rodgers would do. But it was quite a wake up call when we lost Buluga for that game. That's how thin the line is between winning and losing is in this league. Despite the problems, this group is finding a way to win. Next year is next year. Let us all enjoy this run....

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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 05, 2019 at 11:16 am

The Packers are in an enviable position where they truly control their destiny. Their play alone can determine of they finish the regular season with the division title, the 5/6 seed, or stuck on the outside looking in.

We are past the point of trotting out new play designs or finding roster upgrades. The roster and playbooks largely are what they are, and outside of situational adjustments coaches may make for a specific opponent, it's now pretty much solely up to the players to execute their assignments and win their matchups.

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