Coming Out of the Bye, Packers Healthy and Ready for a Run

With the whole team healthy, the Packers couldn't ask for a better position to be in coming out of their bye week.

It has been a long, long time since the Green Bay Packers have been as healthy at this point of the season as they are now.

At practice Monday morning, every single member of the team was a participant. This means the Packers are healthier now, entering week 12, than they were entering the first week of the regular season. By all means, knock on every wooden object you own if that's something you believe in. But for the many who have bemoaned the seemingly constant bad luck with injuries the Packers have experienced over the last decade, that luck has, at least for now, changed.

The Packers' health, combined with their 8-2 start, has put them in prime position for a serious run at a 14th NFL title.

Only once in the starting career of Aaron Rodgers have the Packers sat at 8-2 or better entering week 12, and that was the 2011 season, where the team went on a long undefeated run before getting upset by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Packers ultimately finished with a 15-1 record and homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs before getting bounced in their first playoff game at home against the New York Giants.

While this year's Packers team is not as offensively explosive as that year's group, the team is certainly faring in several key areas.

The Packers are currently alloiwng just over 20 points per game on defense, which would put them at 14th in the league. This is significantly better than their 23.3 points per game allowed by the 2011 unit, which ranked last overall in total defense.

The Packers are also getting much more production out of their running backs than they were in 2011. Not only are they running for more yards per game, but they're also getting much more out of their backs through the air. The ability to run the ball and control the clock in playoff football is crucial. 

While Aaron Rodgers will never again match the otherwordly number of eye-popping plays and statistics he accrued in 2011, there's a good argument to be made that he's playing some of the smartest football of his career in 2019, and he's generally succeeding with far fewer weapons than what he had in that 2011 season.

The Packers have been sharpened by a tough schedule in the opening half of the season against some particularly strong defenses. There are a couple challenges ahead, namely the road games against the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings, but for the most part, the rest of the way gets a bit easier than what the team has already been put through.

For my part, this is the first time since 2014 where I truly believe the Packers have a legitimate Super Bowl contender on their hands. This team finds itself in an even better position than that 2014 team did. A victory against the 49ers would put the Packers in the driver's seat for homefield advantage in the NFL playoffs. Even if the Packers lose to the Vikings and end up tied with them in the standings, the Vikings' two divisional losses (so far) would be a big hurdle for them in an effort to get the tiebreaker. 

It is impossible to commend Matt LaFleur enough for the job he has done coaching this team, when so many critics in the offseason were saying he was in over his head, that Rodgers' best days were behind him, that Rodgers was impossible to work with, and that the Packers overspent on their free agent additions.

Six weeks to go in the regular season, and the Packers have done just about everything they can reasonably do to set themselves up nicely for a run. The team is healthy. They're 8-2, and about to play the top team in the conference under the primetime lights of Sunday Night Football.

Now all there is left to do is win some football games. 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (20)

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 18, 2019 at 02:32 pm

Love the Packers being 8-2 and this healthy this far into the season. Go Pack Go!!!

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

November 18, 2019 at 02:56 pm

Let's hope the defense can tighten up a bit on the long yardage plays and make it easier on themselves throughout the upcoming games. They have been tremendous in the red zone.

But keep those turnovers coming. Every possession you can give Aaron Rodgers is a potential score.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 18, 2019 at 03:56 pm

Being healthy is the number one thing we all hoped for this year. Making it to the bye week at 8-2 was an amazing accomplishment. This opportunity is all we could have asked for.

I thought a bye would be nice for us fans too, but I feel like I have the DTs waiting for my next fix. Waiting all week for Sunday night is feeling like the opening week. Anticipation is high. I’m thinking the 49ers are more likely to get exposed than we are given both teams’ bodies of work.

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Since'61's picture

November 18, 2019 at 04:10 pm

I think the last time the Packers were this healthy at this point in a season was Lombardi's 1966 Packers who went 12-2 in the regular season, won the NFL championship against Dallas and went on to win the first SB against the KC Chiefs. Including the post season the Packers went 14-2 in 1966.

They are healthy and they control their own destiny. Not much more to ask for or expect 10 games into the NFL season. The Packers, 49ers and Seahawks have only lost one game within the NFC. So winning against SF will be critical if the Packers want the #1 seed in the NFC. A Packers win over SF would actually make the Packers and Seattle the top 2 seeds in the NFC assuming Seattle wins this Sunday as well. In any case we don't want to go to either SF, Seattle, or New Orleans for an NFCCG.

As long as the Packers win their games they control their destiny. Even a loss to SF is fatal in terms of a #1 or #2 seed since SF has a more difficult schedule than the Packers. Since we don't play the Seahawks or the Saints we can't impact their standings. All of our remaining games are against NFC opponents so it that sense they all count towards our seeding in the NFC playoffs. Go Pack Go.
Thanks, Since '61

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Leatherhead's picture

November 18, 2019 at 04:19 pm

There was never any scenario where the Packers would be able to make a run down the stretch that did not involve a healthy Aaron Rodgers. But having all the other players healthy as well is a huge bonus, and I can’t help but think it’s connected to what was done in training camp.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:08 pm

It's also cutting players who are constantly injured. Cobb has had a decent season. CM3 injured, Mike Daniels injured, Nick Perry out of the NFL.

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Johnblood27's picture

November 19, 2019 at 01:30 am

The Saints have a veritble cakewalk to the number 1 seed unless they sleepwalk through another game like they did vs Atl.

the Pack will have to earn it by having razor sharp focus and great effort vs SF and MN.

the bye comes at a great time for self scouting to bring changes which will throw some curves at opponents and break tendencies.

i am curious to see if MLF kept some trix up his sleeve for the stretch run and if his self scout will result in some changes to snap counts to reward production and limit liabilities.

the ST have been atrocious, meninga better pull a rabbit out or he should be polishing up his resume. with no injuries to speak of the age old packer excuse of a constant churn on ST wont play this year. Get good or get go e.

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porupack's picture

November 18, 2019 at 05:30 pm

Well, packers aren't quite ready for a run yet. They're missing just one little thing. Rodgers has to coin a new schnide rallying ditty; in the line of RELAX and Run the table. What's it gonna be?

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porupack's picture

November 18, 2019 at 05:43 pm

Definitely happy to know all those off-season soap-opera analysts have been silenced. Whoohooo. Kudos to LaFleur. Kudos to off season moves.

Agree with Backes, that GB has been tested with post-season caliber defenses, still haven't really played their best football yet, and haven't seen a number of key players hit their stride; MVS, Sternberger, Gary, Lazard, Ibraham, Savage, Vitale.
In a way, that can be good in the sense that Lafleur hasn't really keyed opposing Defense Coordinators how any given game can turn to a new weapon to be that guy.
Better to start peaking in Nov than Sept, so lots of reasons for optimism.

Watched Patriots use trickery to finally overcome the Eagles smothering defense. They couldn't do much, until they pulled a rabbit against the Eagles. Would love to see GB start to do some of those in critical times when they are just stalling and not getting it going.

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Gort's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:20 pm

I really don't like the Patriots and Belichick, but part of that is because they are so damn good at neutralizing their opponents strengths and knowing when / how to use gadget plays. That is a skillset that takes years to develop. MLF and his coaching staff are still learning and they will make mistakes, but they need to not make the same mistake twice.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 18, 2019 at 10:25 pm

The gadget plays are usually developed on the sandlots when you're twelve. Belichick has the brains to use them--it's called football.

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splitpea1's picture

November 18, 2019 at 08:52 pm

I'd like to see the Packers try some trickery, too. I don't think they practice it much--it's such a rarity that they do anything out of the ordinary on offense or special teams. Speaking of the latter, I'd also like to see them go after the punter more often; what do they have to lose if they're only going to average 1.3 yards per return (pathetic!) ?

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Spock's picture

November 19, 2019 at 04:48 am

"...if they're only going to average 1.3 yards per return (pathetic!) ?"
splitpea1 if you think that's pathetic, the Packers are actually averaging -1.3 yards (yes, that is minus yardage)!

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Leatherhead's picture

November 19, 2019 at 09:31 am

This is one of the arguments for not returning punts.

Guard against fakes and fair catch the punt. No penalties, no turnovers, no injuries. Put your offense on the field.

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splitpea1's picture

November 19, 2019 at 11:05 am

Wow, you're right! Only the Packers could manage such a stat--Jacksonville is the next worse, but they're gaining 4.1 yards.

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Bure9620's picture

November 18, 2019 at 06:51 pm

The Packers being this healthy IS the main reason they can make a run. We have 2 starters on IR, Raven Greene and Lane Taylor whose replacement has already stolen his job.

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Lphill's picture

November 18, 2019 at 09:00 pm

Unfortunately nothing was done to shore up the middle of the defense , this will be the Achilles heel . Can’t cover tight ends or backs in the middle , not with Burks and Martinez.

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porupack's picture

November 19, 2019 at 06:17 am

Unfortunately, but would you have not acquired AAmos, or either Smith, to get that top tier FA ILB? Or who in the draft was available at #12 more than the need at DE or OLB (that seemed a priority considering the overdue tenure of Matthews and Perry)?

Packers remained with very little cap space, and a GM has to go into the season with a little in case of a major in-season injury at a key position. They did have Burk, Summers still with potential, and Martinez came off a great 2018 year.

I agree a bit though, as there were some inexpensive FA options out there (seems to me), or could have plundered someone's practice squad and rolled the dice that a rookie, rejected by another team's 53 would come in and start over Summers and Burks (unlikely).

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Handsback's picture

November 19, 2019 at 08:07 am

You know one person made the bold prediction that the Packers would go 13-3 on TV and that was James Jones. Everyone scoffed, but he predicted Green Bay to be 8-2 at their break. I have no idea what he envisions for the rest of the season, but I'm willing to listen!
The Packers destiny will be determined by three games: 49ers, Viking and yes the Bears. The Bears will have nothing to lose and will come at the Packers with everything they have. The 49ers and Vikes well everyone knows what's at stake with those games.
This will be a great finish to watch and hope the Packers can keep everyone healthy.

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BobWellhoefer's picture

November 19, 2019 at 12:00 pm

I am encouraged by what I've seen so far, but not sure I completely share your optimism. This defense still gives me the willies at times. I am hoping for the best but I just hope you don't jinx them with this article. :-)

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