Is this Packers regular season a formality?

A few days after the Green Bay Packers filled their socks in the final 5 minutes of the NFC Championship game, I wrote about how the Packers won't have a shot at redemption until the NFL playoffs roll around the following season. Here's an excerpt:

At this point, the regular season is basically a formality for the Packers. They’ll win between 10 and 13 games next season, contend for the division title, and be in the mix for a top-seed in the playoffs. Just like they are every season...But through it all, what happened on Sunday will linger in the back of my mind and the minds of all Packers fans.  We’ll love what happens on the march toward another NFC North title, but we’ll constantly be looking ahead to the postseason, and wondering if it’s all going to be washed away by yet another playoff meltdown.

I was still all wound up about the collapse and depressed when I wrote that piece. I thought for sure my opinion would soften after a long offseason, a fresh crop of draft picks to root for, and the excitement of a new football season.

It hasn't. 

Don't get me wrong, my excitement level for the 2015 Packers season is just as high as it always is. I can't wait to watch this team every Sunday and count my blessings that I root for the greatest sports organization on the planet which just happens to have the best quarterback in the league and an impressive run of success over the last 20 years.

I'll be absorbed by every game like I always am and dive right into the analysis, second-guessing and Twitter chatter before, during and after each tilt.

But through all the ups and downs that are about occur during this 2015 Packers regular season, I can't shake the part of my brain that still thinks it's going to be a formality.

Like I wrote in the above-quoted piece, the Packers will win between 10-13 games this season, be in the mix for a top seed in the NFC, and have people talking Super Bowl. Just like they do every season.

And instead of fully enjoying all of that wonderful positivity and week-to-week excitement, a large part of my brain will be looking ahead to the playoffs and the opportunity to truly avenge what happened in Seattle.

Aaron Rodgers throws for 350 yards and five touchdowns agaisnt the Bears? Cool. Can he do the same thing in the playoffs?

Undrafted LaDarius Gunter breaks out as a stud and leads all rookies in interceptions at Thanksgiving? Good for him. How's he going to handle the pressure of playoff football?

Ty Montgomery is a beast on kick returns? Super. Hopefully the Packers special teams don't get "Zooked" in January and lead the way to another playoff meltdown.

Unfortunately, nothing that happens between the months of September and the end of December will get the stench of Seattle out of my senses. Do I have this odd combination of negative/spoiled/entitled mindset if the Packers simply lost a hard-fought game to the better team in Seattle last season? Probably not.

But the Seattle meltdown, combined with other playoff-failings from the post-2010 Packers, make it really hard to not look ahead to January, even if Green Bay is on an incredible roll in October.

Per usual, the 2015 Packers regular season will be a tremendous amount of fun. Unfortunately, it's also going to feel like somewhat of a formality.

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Comments (42)

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2015 at 06:28 am

Exactly. If this team doesn't win it all, the season is a failure. High standards yes. Since 1992, GB has missed the playoffs in 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2008. That's it. They'll win the division. Again. Yawn.

But if the franchise doesn't get at least one more (preferably 2-3) Lombardi before Rodgers retires it will go down as one of the greatest wastes of QB talent (in the QB era no less) in the history of the NFL.

They were the best team last year. And they wet the bed. They have the best roster going into the year this year. Hopefully they can avoid doing it again.

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NashvilleCheesehead's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:14 am

Dan Marino. Jim Kelly. Fran Tarkenton. Dan Fouts. All of them would have capped great careers with just one Super Bowl. But they are all acknowledged as great QBs with or without a SB. I want a bucket full of Lombardi's as much as any Packer fan. But don't let the magic that is our franchise pass you by. Enjoy each game. Enjoy Rodgers. Enjoy the journey.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:26 am

I agree. All of those QBs were great players who never won it all. And there were many QBs who were lesser players that did. But, those teams you mentioned above have asterisks (they never won it all) behind them. They just do. It's the way it is.

What I'm saying is that behind the Patriots, the Packers have been the 2nd best team in the last 25 years. To have only 2 super bowls in that time is the definition of underachieving. It all comes down to winning.

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marpag1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:35 am

Nashville, don't confuse players with teams. You can be a great player without winning a SB. You cannot be a great team without winning a SB. Bearmeat was talking about teams.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:01 am

Yep.

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NickPerry's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:00 am

I agree with Bearmeat, the Packers have been very fortunate to have had 2 of the best QB's to ever play the game. If by chance they were to win "Just Two" Super Bowls, it would be a waste of unbelievable talent. There's teams (Like the 70's & 80's Packers) who go 20 years without finding a QB capable of winning a SB.

I said before last season was over the 2015 and 2016 Packers Teams would "Win it All" and I still believe that. The Packers had amazing drafts in 2013 and 2014 to go with the talent already on the roster. All the division titles, 6 consecutive playoff appearances, and wins are great but it's not enough. Not when you have Aaron F'ing Rodgers!!!

This is a talented deep football team. Only a team this deep could lose a player like Jordy Nelson for the year and still be a favorite. Great QB are measured by SB wins. I mean Marino was Great, but you always hear that one negative, he never won a SB. Peyton Manning is considered one of if not the best to ever play the position. But you still hear he only won one SB. I believe this is where Rodgers begins to cement his legacy as "The Best Ever", this year and next when the whole band is together.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 06, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I always hate this argument. It makes it sound like it's easy to win a Super Bowl. "You have a great quarterback? Ok then go win now." Obviously there's a lot more to winning than that or a lot of other great Quarterbacks would have won more than they did. And quarterbacks who were just considered caretakers at the position wouldn't have won so much.

The playoffs are always a crapshoot, A throw of the dice. It is one game against another good team. If they played 10 times it would probably go 5 -5 between them. All you can ask of your team is that they are in the position to throw their dice and see what happens at the end. And the Packers are always in that position. The Patriots didn't win a super bowl for 10 years - should they have been asking for changes and saying these were wasted seasons?

I do agree with you that I have high expectations for this season. But of course it's not a formality. Hell, the Packers played one bad preseason game and these pages went wild with angst so of course it's not a formality. I expect the Packers to be in the playoffs again and then we will see what happens there.

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Turophile's picture

September 06, 2015 at 04:51 pm

Agree with PaulRosik.
It's not all about who is the most talented team, it's just as much about which team is hot at the right time.

The Giants are a good example of a team that sometimes gets hot enough to beat one, or even a series of teams, that you thought would have beaten them. They can also blow cold, sometimes.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 06, 2015 at 06:44 pm

The NFL playoffs are a win or go home proposition against the rest of the good teams in the league. There is no best of 7 series where the better team usually wins out. So the best team does not always win when its a one game thing. As a result you just want your team to show how good it is during the long season and then see what happens in the playoffs.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 06, 2015 at 06:35 am

Adam, I can understand you... Why you are feeling like you wrote. But, as one of the youngest fan here (by how long I'm immerse in american football, not by age!) I can make some parallels with other teams in other sports around the globe.
What I especially likes with Packers is that they have really excellent leadership, at least regarding football operations... 2011, they did not have fearsome running game. Mike McCarthy (and TT) notice that and worked on that so today we have one of the best running attack in the league (OL + RB/FB), 2013 they messed with back up QB, so that was corrected, as well as D (during 2014 season!). They wanted to go faster on D - case closed, they are faster today. Mike McCarthy understood correctly what was that small piece what was missing and what caused loss in NFCCG. He correctly diagnosed that he was not the Head Coach, but just play caller on Packer game day. Second one, who might turn the players behavior, Dom Capers was sitting in the box... So, there was nobody to warn Mike's team that there is still at least 5 minutes to play, before they can claim they won that game... Mike McCarthy left his play calling duty to be true HC of his team. Not only in practices and in preparing schemes and in deciding who will be cut, but also in game management during the game...
And, that will be the last piece in the puzzle which will allow Packers to win BIG L...
Relax and Go, Pack, Go...

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phillythedane's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:47 am

Geez, I like your accent, Croat. Every time.

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Badgerfan03's picture

September 06, 2015 at 06:50 am

This is a great article, I think your thoughts about the season are dead-on, even more so with the injury to Jordy. The playoffs will define this team and we all will be holding out hope that this year can end the way last should have. Great article.

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marpag1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:13 am

Q: Is the regular season a "formality?"
A: Who cares?

I know I'm a little cranky, but one of my peeves in sports journalism is "Creation of Debate by Means of Ill-defined and Imprecise Terminology."

When we're done arguing about whether this season is a formality or not, let's ask if Hundley can become "Elite." Then we'll argue about whether or not Shields is a "Shut down corner." Then we can duke it out in defense of Josh Sitton as a true "Difference Maker."

Or not.

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JerseyAl's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:00 am

I'd say you're more than a little cranky today. We are here to start conversations, otherwise, you get a blank screen.

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marpag1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 01:57 pm

Do you really think that it's impossible to have a conversation unless we use ill-defined and imprecise terminology? Will we always have a blank screen unless we introduce a little confusion and ambiguity? Really? That sounds completely backwards to me.

Unless the definition of a term is agreed upon and accepted by both sides, a "conversation" is just two people talking past each other... a lot of words to no useful end.

On the AllGBP site there were always lingering complaints about "clickbait headlines" for precisely this reason. Authors sometimes used ambiguous, double entendre, or sensationalistic headlines that did not accurately convey the content of the article.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:55 am

C'MON MAN! You earned that JA.

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:15 am

In other words,the Green Bay Packers will have a special at some point in the future called....

"The Greatest Team of The Decade...That Wasn't."
(2010-2019)

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:27 am

They won't if they win at least one more. Preferably 2. And 1 is likely. 2 is possible.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:06 am

No more excuses. Just get it done.

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Seth Borden's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:11 am

I have no problem viewing a Lombardi as the goal by which we rate the season. But every Sunday matters. I'm not willing to see the regular season as a formality UNTIL the Packers win 10-13 games and get into the Playoffs.

Jordy out.
Shaky Tackle depth.
Question marks up the middle behind the DL.

I feel like one key injury on this team in September or October could make a world of difference. Don't get me wrong. I am upbeat about this team, and I wouldn't trade this 53 for any other team in the League. I will feel more comfortable with the "formality" declaration if and when we are there in January.

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Paul Birkholz's picture

September 06, 2015 at 08:32 am

Keeping it real! !

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EdsLaces's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:13 am

Acting like we will be in the playoffs again is not guaranteed. I'm all for being optimistic but you should count your chickens. Jordy saved so many games for us that we might not have won without him. Without him ..I will be thrilled to make the playoffs. Way more than the past couple years...

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EdsLaces's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:14 am

Shouldn't *

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 10:03 am

He laid an egg against the Bills, a game that cost us home field. Seattle won't be any different to play. They put Sherman on him so now Sherman will cover someone else.

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 06, 2015 at 10:52 am

Sherman will only cover the WR that lines up on the boundary on the right side. That is the ONLY place he'll line up. Its one reason I don't consider him the best CB in the NFL. He can only be successful lined up in that one position. Revis, Peterson, Vonta Davis will cover anyone anywhere... either Slot, wide left, wide right doesn't matter. Sherman won't.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 12:16 pm

It doesn't matter to have a deep threat against Seattle. They get lots of QB pressure so you usually don't have time to go deep. So playing Seattle without Jordy really doesn't matter IMO. Go after Sherman with WR screens, make him tackle and pound him.

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 06, 2015 at 01:17 pm

I didn't say anything about going deep. Its just a fact Sherman only lines up in One spot, no matter who lines up across from him. I don't care about going after him w/ any particular play. I care only about winning. Sherman is One player and Seattle has a bevy of great players. Why focus just on him?

Just need to scheme to find an opening against that D. No matter who or where it is.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 01:59 pm

I just want to see someone punch that prick in the mouth.

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The TKstinator's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:38 pm

Just look up Trent Williams on YouTube.

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NickPerry's picture

September 06, 2015 at 10:21 pm

The way you beat Seattle is a short passing game and Eddie Lacy. If you look at the SB New England beat them with quick passes to the WR and Vereen. Obviously Gronk had a hand but Amendola, Vereen, and Edelman had 20 receptions between them for 221 yards. Brady was sacked just once for 8 yards.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 09:23 am

Having 2 HOF QB's for the last 20+ years will spoil a fan base. We're spoiled rotten. Luck plays a big part in winning it all. Bad luck usually rears its ugly head in the form of injuries. I don't buy the lets not talk about the SB BS. It should be the only thing on each players mind. ST's better come out swinging or fire Zook immediately.

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 06, 2015 at 10:54 am

The goal should be the SB, but the only thing on each players mind is the next game. Have to win that one, before you move to the next. Its the focus on each game that makes the goal attainable.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 12:11 pm

By focusing on the prize should make every game as meaningful as possible. Get home field for the playoffs. The media has made them the favorites, now act like it. If they lose to Seattle at home, the NFCCG will go through Seattle again.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 06, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Spot on. For the team they for sure have to be ready for each game. As a fanbase we tend to look to the end more. We expect the Packers to win 10 or more games and be in the mix in the playoffs. We expect that not because they did it last year, but because of the players and talent on the team. But if the team plays like they also just expect to be there they might end up getting their teeth kicked in early.

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Since'61's picture

September 06, 2015 at 10:02 am

Given the number of games in an NFL season you can't take the regular season for granted or a formality (speaking for myself). Unlike baseball, where you can lose a key player for 3-4 months you still have enough games to make up ground in the standings when that key player returns. But in the NFL, with the limited number of games and the difference between winning and losing thinner than a strand of hair, the regular season matters. We all know that our season can end on any play if our QB is injured for the season. As Adam covered in his article we saw how many ways the ball can bounce against us all in one game. Any one of those bounces can cost us a regular season game, which can cost us a #1 or 2 seed, a division title or a playoff spot. If the Seattle game taught us and hopefully the Packers anything it is that we take nothing for granted. Play for 60 minutes regardless of the score or opponent. One play, one quarter, one game at a time. Don't worry about 2-3 more SBs. I would love to see it as much as anyone here but the only game that matters and the only game we have to win is the current week's game. If we do that the rest will take care of itself. As fans, stay positive and enjoy the ride, it's going to be a good one. Thanks, Since '61

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 06, 2015 at 11:00 am

The author I surmise and agree with if correct,is that the Packers and the fans will yet again do the yearly camping trip and sit around the fire, not singing 'KUMBAYA' of happy reminisce, but offering their own self gratifying 'if only' stories as the formality of what becomes more the norm in Packer land gets another failure notch in the Rodgers era.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 06, 2015 at 12:25 pm

No one is ever satisfied with not winning it all. Don't confuse being happy the team won 12 games and another division crown with NOT wanting them to do more. You don't tear apart a winning formula to try to recreate it. You make small adjustments and try again.

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The TKstinator's picture

September 06, 2015 at 07:40 pm

That is one LONG sentence!

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egbertsouse's picture

September 06, 2015 at 11:43 am

I'm reluctant to award the Packers the division until I see them under fire in real games. I have some significant questions:

1. Can they replace Jordy and will cobb stay healthy?
2. How good is the DL? Raji hasn't shown anything so far. Ditto Jones and Guion. Some of the young ones have, but will they play?
3. Will the LBs improve? They also haven't shown much. Can any of them cover?
4. Will Hayward step up and will he stay healthy?
5. If not, how will the rookie CBs react under real game conditions?
6. Can the OL stay healthy? They've been dinged all preseason.

I think Rodgers gets you 7-8 wins by himself but can they pick up the other 4?

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aj's picture

September 06, 2015 at 03:37 pm

I'll never understand why my fellow Packers fans love to worry. We have a top 3 roster in the NFL, the best qb in the game today, possibly ever, and a great leadership foundation. MM will have the team ready to go come playoff time and TT will continue to add young talent to the roster. Unfortunately, none of this guarantees you a championship, so it's important that we enjoy the fruits of success from each season. Even without winning a championship, a season can be seen as great, or a success. Last season's playoff debacle hurt, but the entire regular season was some of the best football I have ever seen played by this franchise, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Just sit back and enjoy the performances our green and gold provide us.

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4thand1's picture

September 06, 2015 at 02:06 pm

Remember Ray Rhodes? Pack went 8-8 and he got fired. Zook should be on a shorter leash IMO.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

September 06, 2015 at 04:55 pm

They should hire someone to count to 11 for them.

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