NFL Parity is Helping Packers

Competition thins out quickly this year.

It seems bizarre that a team with a 5-7 record could still be in the thick of the playoff race.  Welcome to the 2021 NFL season, where it’s impossible to lose enough to be out of it.  As we hit the home stretch, no fewer than seven teams in the NFC have either five or six wins and are wallowing around the .500 mark.  With five games still to play, the division winners have pretty much been decided.  As the bevy of mediocre teams battle it out for the wild card spots, the Green Bay Packers find themselves above the fray, able to focus on a higher goal.  

 

They have worked hard to position themselves solidly for December and January football. The Packers have grinded out several very close wins to put up a 9-3 record, which places them well to compete for the number one seed, and the exclusive bye that comes with it.  It’s clear now there are going to be just three other competitors for that seeding.  I’m looking at Arizona, Tampa Bay and Dallas.  The Rams and 49ers could climb back into it, but I don’t believe they are consistent enough to pull it off.   

 

Green Bay has five games remaining.  Three of them are at home.  Only one of them is against a team with a winning record.  They play at Lambeau against the Bears, Browns and Vikings.  They are on the road at Baltimore and Detroit.  They will certainly be favored in four of those contests, and maybe even in the Ravens game as well.  Barring any catastrophic injuries, the Packers are surely capable of running that table.  At the least they should go 4-1.  That would put them at 13-4 for the season.  Will that be good enough? 

 

Arizona stands a game ahead at 10-2.  They must yet play the Rams and Colts at home, and at Dallas.  They could easily lose two of those games, especially if quarterback Kyler Murray continues to have health issues.  That would put them also at 13-4.  Remember the Packers win the tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head victory (thank you Rasul Douglas).  

 

The Cowboys are a game behind at 8-4.  Dallas has played a bunch at home thus far.  They are now in the midst of three consecutive road games at New Orleans, Washington and the New York Giants.   Those aren’t great teams, but it’s still tough to win three in a row on the road.  Later they will play at Philadelphia, and at home against Washington and Arizona.  I don’t see them winning enough of those games to overtake Green Bay. 

 

The team I see as the biggest obstacle to the top seed is the Bucs.  They are even with the Packers, with remaining games at Carolina, and the Jets, combined with home contests against Buffalo, New Orleans and Carolina again.  The Brady bunch is likely to be favored in all of those games.  The Bills are the best bet to put a loss on them, but Buffalo has been inconsistent at best.  Then again, the Bucs are prone to  laying an egg now and then.  They have losses to the Saints and Washington to prove it.   

 

Even if Green Bay does not finish as the number one seed, they have plenty of things that seem to be lining up for them as we head down the stretch. 

 

The rest of the NFC North is down.  None of the three teams currently have a winning record.  Normally, one would look at the remaining schedule and see the Packers have three tough divisional games left to play.  Yes, the Bears, Vikings and Lions will be fired up for those games but, despite the loss at Minnesota, Green Bay is decidedly better than all three.  Chicago and Detroit will have little to play for, and the Packers should have plenty of motivation to avenge their earlier loss to the Vikes, who seem to have lost their mojo after a shocking loss to the Lions. 

 

The Packers should be getting an infusion of top talent at some point down the stretch.  There is hope that David Bakhtiari, Za’darius Smith, Josh Myers and Jaire Alexander can return at some point.  Aaron Jones’ knee injury should get better, as well as Aaron Rodgers’ toe issue.  However, a note of caution here.  It is unrealistic to expect these injured reserve players to jump in and immediately resume playing at their All Pro levels.  We may be a bit disappointed at first, but the hope would be they round into form by playoff time. 

 

Several players who needed to take the next step and improve rapidly in order for the Packers to contend have done so.  These include Jon Runyan, Yosh Nijman, Dean Lowry, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Eric Stokes and AJ Dillon.  The value of finding De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas cannot be overstated.  Preston Smith is having a bounce back year.  This team is showing the depth and poise it will take for a deep run into the post season. 

 

The stars may be aligning for the Green and Gold.  In a year where there doesn’t seem to be any dominant team in the NFL, somebody has to step forward and grab the ring. 

 

Why not the Packers? 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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6 points

Comments (28)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dobber's picture

December 06, 2021 at 07:34 am

This article ignores the depth in the AFC. The top of the NFC is better than the top of the AFC, but once you get past those teams, the AFC is superior.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 06, 2021 at 08:19 am

Good thing we only need to beat ONE of the teams in that deep AFC pool in the playoffs.

All that superior depth might have worn us down if we had to beat them all!

Also, all that superior depth will have the emergent winner beat down and ripe for the taking.

8 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 06, 2021 at 08:41 am

That’s how I see it, too. We only have to beat ONE AFC team

6 points
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PatrickGB's picture

December 06, 2021 at 09:32 am

The Ravens have proved themselves to be a tough match. The Browns are up and down. The Vikings are motivated yet inferior. I see one or maybe two losses by the season’s end.

-3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 06, 2021 at 03:09 pm

Is this Taryn?

-3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 07, 2021 at 01:03 pm

wow, lotta hate for a simple question...

0 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 07, 2021 at 02:29 pm

Yeah. Right... You took a cheap shot at a long time commentor for no real reason. Consider yourself lucky that you didn't nail to the board for it...

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 07, 2021 at 05:44 pm

Pessimism... it has become the national sport.

Taryn will be the first to say that she is no pollyanna. Why take it out on me?

0 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 07, 2021 at 02:32 pm

A reversal of the past decade. And you know who befits, 'The Hoodie'. Ugh...

0 points
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Brockrice99's picture

December 06, 2021 at 08:30 am

If the Packers win out I do not see a way we do not get the 1 seed. Like you said, the Cardinals have a tough stretch and they are definitely due to lose at least 1 of those games. Secondly, even if the Buccs win out and we win out, we have the tiebreaker. Please NFL give the Packers a playoff revenge tour coming through Lambeau. Then secondly NFL, pls bring the Dallas Cowboys up to Lambeau in -10 degree weather for the NFC Championship game. I know this is a lot to ask for, but as a Packer fan these last 10 years of playoff defeats have been absolutely unbearable I can not handle another.

9 points
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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 06, 2021 at 11:20 am

I don't want any team that I think that the NFL will want in the Super Bowl coming our way. Give me Arizona. If it comes between us and the Cards getting in the Super Bowl I know the league will want us in the big game.

6 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 06, 2021 at 03:12 pm

You see the striped stooges just as I do... henchmen for Vince McMaho-- - Rodger Goodell!

Something is rotten in Denmark and also in the NFL league offices!

Gambling, Network interests, league parity... just a little too cozy for me.

You may think I am a conspiracy theorist, but even paranoids have enemies!

5 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

December 06, 2021 at 09:42 am

Part parity, part expanded playoff field. We already had a few questionable teams with .500 records (or worse) make the play-offs under the last iteration. With another wildcard team the playoff product is even more questionable. Then throw in some perennially poor divisions (e.g. NFC East the last few years) and you've created a system where more teams stay in the playoff hunt far longer. I guess the NFL thinks this is a good thing. Maybe it is if your team is one that has struggled to make the play-offs. That hasn't been much of a problem in Green Bay for about 30 years.

8 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 06, 2021 at 06:47 pm

I’m with you johnblood—well said. You don’t have to wear a tin hat to believe in a conspiracy. The fact is, a conspiracy is not very complicated—two or more people agreeing to commit an act. The NFL officiating crews are activating my BS meter…especially the Hochuli clowns.

3 points
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Since'61's picture

December 06, 2021 at 10:48 am

The Packers could very easily be 12-1 at this point. The keys to running the table will be our defense, running game (OL) and of course the play of Aaron Rodgers.

The coaching staff needs to keep the team focused on the current week’s opponent and not let them look ahead to the playoffs before the playoffs get here.

A win over the Bears coupled with a Vikings loss this week and the Packers win the NFC North. At that point it becomes all about the seeding. Players tend to let up once they know they’re in the playoffs so that could be a challenge for MLF and the staff if the Packers capture the division title over the next 2 weeks which they can do regardless of what happens with the Vikings.

With the possibility of 2-3 meaningless games to close out the season MLF will need to thread carefully between keeping his players healthy versus going all out for the # 1 seed. I believe in going all out for the #1 seed but I would hate to lose one or more of our key players before the playoffs. For now, just beat the Bears and go from there.
GPG! Thanks, Since ‘61

12 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 06, 2021 at 02:36 pm

I agree with you completely on this matter...

1 points
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Since'61's picture

December 06, 2021 at 06:20 pm

Always good to hear from you Croat. I hope that all is well with you. Stay safe. Thanks, Since '61

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 06, 2021 at 03:15 pm

I like how you leave out any mention of the special teams. Some things are just not discussed I guess!

I am a proponent of playing guys into condition in the pre-season as well as keeping them healthy through full speed activity. No resting of starters please! Cut reps, maybe, games off - no way! ...and go full at it when out there, jogging around is a sure way to get rolled up and hurt.

3 points
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jurp's picture

December 06, 2021 at 03:54 pm

Special teams = "They Who Shall Not Be Named"

2 points
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Since'61's picture

December 06, 2021 at 06:23 pm

Johnblood27, I didn't mention the STs because we have succeeded in spite of them. If they improve over the next 5 games it will only make us that much the better for the playoffs. I'm also expecting Crosby to come out of his funk. I believe that he will come through for us in the clutch. Stay well. Thanks, Since '61

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 06, 2021 at 06:49 pm

Agree that we should likely be 12-1.

2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 06, 2021 at 06:52 pm

Also agree we have won despite of our ST’s.

2 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 06, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Bucs and Cards will both lose at least one more. We hold tiebreaker over Bucs due to their NFC record.

4 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

December 06, 2021 at 04:54 pm

Brady was awful in December last year, right? But you never know. They got some guys healthy at the right time, too.

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 07, 2021 at 07:00 pm

Yep—
And I’ve posted this elsewhere on this site, but methinks it’s worth mentioning again.
Brady was extremely fortunate to win the nfccg against us after throwing three picks, and what should have been four, and possibly five. That type of stat seldom wins. But he’s the Golden Calf and the beneficiary of some unlikely results.

0 points
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Bearmeat's picture

December 06, 2021 at 02:04 pm

It was never the regular season that worried me about the 2021 Packers. It’s always been January. Frankly, that’s where Packer teams have come up short so often the past 30 years. Will this year be different? I have my doubts. History being what it is.

But can they do it? Certainly.

3 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

December 06, 2021 at 04:24 pm

All I can say is this has been a really wacky year, for lack of a better word. No team has really looked dominant, injuries have piled up across the league, and somehow, a one win team is still technically on the hunt for a playoff spot.

December football is finally here in GB - now let's see what happens!

2 points
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PAPackerbacker's picture

December 07, 2021 at 04:13 am

Stay focused and defeat the Bears. Looking past any future opponent is a huge mistake. Control what you can control and prepare for the next game. Don't dwell on what other teams need to do. Concentrate on what the Packers need to do to keep winning and stay healthy. Go! Pack! Go!

2 points
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