Packers Championship Run Starts Now

The Green Bay Packers representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIV isn't as far-fetched as some think.  Depending on which source you look at, Green Bay currently sits among the top five teams with the best odds to reach Miami in early February.  Those who do think it's far-fetched can't really be blamed.  A year ago, this team was on its way to the unceremonious exit of their 13-year head coach and a lost season.

Now, back and healthy after a bye week, this Packers team is primed to make a run.  

They're 8-2 and winning games in a multitude of ways.  But, as fate would have it, a few other NFC teams are also having very good seasons.  The New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay's opponent this week, the San Francisco 49ers, all have at least eight wins.

Normally, 10 wins gets a team into the postseason.  At this rate, both wild card teams may have 11 or more wins.  While the circumstances aren't the same as they were in 2016, this Packers team may need another "table run" to keep themselves in position for a top seed in the NFC.  12 wins may not be enough for a bye when all is said and done.

As the team resumed practice, players and coaches echoed the same things.  Need to clean up the mistakes and stay aware of what is in front of them.  The Packers lead the league in pre-snap penalties, something that is completely controllable. Those types of mistakes will quickly derail the "special" that this season has carried with it.

It seems unlikely the Packers end up winning all of their remaining games, if being realistic.  A loss or even two doesn't necessarily derail the season by any means, but they have to come out hot this week against the 9ers.  A win this week puts Green Bay in the driver's seat in the NFC.  El numero uno, at least for the week to follow.  From there, it's week to week.

This is a young Packers team and despite big contributions from veterans like Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos and Ibraheim Campbell, most of those guys haven't played in many or any playoff games.  January football is different from the regular season brand.  Preparing and staying focused on the prize is a mentality that takes a healthy effort.

Despite that youth and lack of playoff experience in some spots, guys like Aaron Rodgers, Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari and even Mason Crosby (yes, the kicker can certainly be a leader) can bring everyone along and help them stay on course.

Head coach Matt LaFleur is in just his first as a head man but he hardly looks it, setting records and putting himself in the conversation for coach of the year.  Having a veteran like Mike Pettine probably doesn't hurt.

Things are coming together nicely for this team.  They're 4-0 against winning teams (the only NFL team unbeaten against winners so far), have some big road wins and have nearly the entire roster available in mid-November.  If this is truly the season of "all gas, no - break", Sunday night's game should be a continuation of all of the good things that have gotten the Packers here.

The path to Miami is now in plain sight and the journey begins now.

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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 (30)

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Bearmeat's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:08 pm

If we want homefield, we need to win out. At the very worst, drop one more game. There are too many good teams at the top of the NFC. Barring an epic collapse, the division is ours, unless Minny beats SEA in SEA and us at home.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:14 pm

I have been thinking the same thing.

If we win out, we should have the #1 seed. We can perhaps help relegate the 49ers to a wild card, and conceivably knock Minnesota out of the wild card spot.

It'd be a lot better if we didn't have to play in New Orleans or Seattle.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:51 pm

Right. I mean, you never say never, but I'm not sure that this team is bad ass enough to go into the Clink or the Voodoo Dome and win, in a playoff game.

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chugwater's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:20 pm

I have us splitting MN/SF and then losing one of the remaining four we should win.

That puts us at 12-4. Good for the second seed bye.

Crystal ball is blurry after that.

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NitschkeFan's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:35 pm

That's a very realistic forecast but at 12-4, depending on how the other teams do we still may end up the #3 seed. That would suck and almost seems unfair. But the NFC appears to be really stacked up at the top with a real chance for a few teams to go 13-3, 12-4 and maybe there will be a 14-2 team in there too.

A win this weekend will go a long way to getting a first round bye. I know it's too early but I am as excited for this game as I would be for a playoff game.
GPG!

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chugwater's picture

November 20, 2019 at 02:24 pm

I factored in that these other contending teams have to play each other.

The Niners have to play us, New Orleans, Baltimore, and away at Seattle. And Minnesota has to play Seattle. So I'm counting on a round-robin effect where everyone splits giving us an opportunity to slide into a bye.

I'm projecting that we beat the Niners, Niners beat the Saints, Ravens beat the Niners, Seattle beats the Vikes, and we lose a competitive one to the Vikes. I *think* that gets us a first round bye assuming everyone wins their remaining games.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

November 20, 2019 at 05:07 pm

quit calling them the vikes...they're the purple PUKES....get it right....

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TheBigCheeze's picture

November 20, 2019 at 05:04 pm

splitting MN/SF ?.......what does that mean?....

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chugwater's picture

November 20, 2019 at 05:58 pm

Win one and lose win. Not sure which.

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chugwater's picture

November 20, 2019 at 05:59 pm

lose *one*

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

November 20, 2019 at 01:45 pm

There were a lot of young players on the Super Bowl Team as well. Morgan Burnett was lost early on to a torn ACL but, Brian Bulaga, James Starks and Andrew Quarless all contributed. Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and T.J. Lang were all second year players. They had some great vets like Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, all-world Charles Woodson and Nick Collins and Tramon were in their prime.

Might be a good mix of vets and youth on this team, though nobody on the defense has much playoff experience. Preston and Z have a game apiece and Kenny and Blake have 3 games each. Not a whole lot else.

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Sol's picture

November 20, 2019 at 02:23 pm

Oh my how things have changed in ten short weeks. When no one predicted a playoff run and it seemed to be common consensus by all the talking heads it was just going to be a rebuilding year. We now have a healthy team, healthy QB, 8-2 record coming out of our bye week and absolutely no one in the NFL wants to come into Green Bay late in the season.

I still think the best philosophy is one game at a time, with the whole team buying in. A team tends to be only as good as the least talented players. What I like most is the amount of veteran leadership, it seems to be just enough to prevent a Miles Garret situation from ever happening in Green Bay.

Now as far a running the table, that would be great as long as they do it one game at a time.

PS I think San Francisco is in for a big Green and Gold surprise Sunday night.

Go Pack

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ricky's picture

November 20, 2019 at 02:23 pm

This game means a lot to both teams. Both have had a lot of adversity recently; both are younger with a strong core of veterans. However, looking at the '49ers schedule after this game, they are playing a lot of very good teams. The best team the Packers face are the Vikings. Losing would be bad, but not devastating. Not unless one of the teams has a stinker game like the Packers did against the Chargers. We'll also learn something about the ability of LaFleur to motivate the team coming off a bye week.

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sam1's picture

November 20, 2019 at 03:02 pm

Just have a feeling this games determination lies in the Special Teams lap! Close shoot out game that will be determined in the 1-3 point range! Go Pack, and oh I think we win another close one!

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Lphill's picture

November 20, 2019 at 04:47 pm

The Packers can’t defend the middle of the field with Martinez , Burks and Goodson , unless Pettine has a secret weapon we don’t know about.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 20, 2019 at 07:46 pm

Poop

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Spock's picture

November 21, 2019 at 06:16 am

Hopefully, that changes to a *poot* after this game. :)

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Leatherhead's picture

November 20, 2019 at 07:49 pm

And yet, only one team has scored more than 26 on us. 4 of our 8 wins saw our opponent held to 16 points or less. Four more wins saw our opponent get 22, 24, 24, and 24 and some of those points were in garbage time.

How do you reconcile those facts with your contention that we can't defend the middle of the field? Obviously, we're doing something right.

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Lphill's picture

November 20, 2019 at 07:48 pm

Yes correct but the Eagles and Chargers Tight ends and backs did damage and the Raiders almost did as well , tight ends and backs .

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Leatherhead's picture

November 21, 2019 at 04:55 pm

The Eagles was a bad game, but we only scored 11 against theChargers, and that was a bigger problem than covering the midle

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cheesehead1's picture

November 20, 2019 at 06:25 pm

Huge game, obviously. With a weeks rest, time to step up and be more prepared than the Chargers game. SF is banged up, as we can all relate over the years. This year we’re in pretty good shape for a change. Our O line needs to play like we know they can. Take it to them and get a lead and limit turnovers. Go Pack!

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Pierre's picture

November 20, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Packers were dominated by the Chargers, a team with a losing record, as Rodgers could do little to even get the offense across midfield until late in the 3rd quarter. That was a very troubling performance given he had a perfect QB rating two weeks prior. He needs to get the ball out quickly and accurately to multiple receivers versus the 49ers if the Packers have any chance to win.

It’s going to be like a playoff game and the usual question will again be...how does Rodgers play against teams with winning records?...Not very good. He’ll have to disprove his past performance history in this regard to lead the Packers to victory. He certainly is paid to perform at an elite level in these type of games. So Mr Rodgers, this game is all up to your performance.

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Kevin Carpenter's picture

November 21, 2019 at 01:33 pm

The chargers are also not as bad as they seem. They very easily could be 6-3 had they not shot themselves in the feet multiple times. Ingram was also back for that game and our offensive line was completely out of sync. Look at the Vikings last week. They were down 20-0 to a pitiful Broncos until they came back in "garbage time". There is no garbage time in the NFL and anything can happen at any time. The defense couldn't stop the chargers offense enough for the Packers to come back into the game. That happens sometimes. Sometimes you just have a bad game too.

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Spock's picture

November 21, 2019 at 06:26 am

I'm hoping to see a team fired up after their bye week and pumped to play their "A" game. If Bahk and Bulaga are rested and healthier (especially Bahkatari) I'm looking to see a hard hitting game against a beat up, tired team. the 49ers had to play some overtime and that adds more wear and tear. I'm guessing that MLF has been repeating a lot to the team about being ready for this game and using the fiasco at the Chargers to keep the team in the "one game at a time" mode. Savage has another two weeks of healing and he could be a difference maker (maybe a pick?) this week. This does feel like a playoff game and should the Packers prevail will be great "practice" for a post-season run.

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 21, 2019 at 07:47 am

I think the 49ers will stumble down the stretch. I'm not saying they are a paper tiger or overrated, but the back end of the schedule is a lot tougher than the front end. Teams are having trouble with the Ravens, the Saints and Seahawks are legit, and the Rams and Falcons are capable of handing them that "bad loss" they have avoided so far. I expect the Packers to win by 10. And I expect to see Seattle or New Orleans in the NFC Championship game against the Packers.

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Sol's picture

November 21, 2019 at 09:08 am

As long as we are playing at home it will be great!!

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BobWellhoefer's picture

November 21, 2019 at 11:34 am

I think it is all going to come down to which team wants it more. This one will be like a playoff game. It will be interesting to see how MLF gets his team ready to play, and should be an indication of how they will perform during the playoffs. Hopefully it will be a departure from how MM's teams performed. Everyone will have to play their A game to beat this SF team. It is doable, but not if they give a performance like the one against the Chargers. Holmgren used so say that games like this are about "kicking ass." Hopefully that is what the Packers will do.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 21, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Notwithstanding who wins SUN I expect the 49ers to be shown to be in large product the result of a really weak schedule and highlighted by the bad offenses they got.

I don't see them being able to hold on to a bye week. that puts GB in the drivers seat

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GLM's picture

November 21, 2019 at 02:18 pm

We won't get a better opportunity to knock off the 'Niners. The team has had 2 weeks to prepare and get healthy, while SF is banged up. This is a must-win game for the Pack, and the remainder of the season hinges on its outcome.

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albert999's picture

November 21, 2019 at 03:30 pm

We win if we don’t turnover the ball

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