After the Packers Sunday night loss to the Patriots, the sky has been falling in Green Bay. I’m hearing members of the media who I like talk about how the Packers are in trouble. I’ve even seen people talk about whether or not Mike McCarthy should be fired mid-season (I’m not saying Green Bay shouldn’t look to move on at some point, but firing a coach mid-season almost guarantees you won’t make playoffs). Even Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb stated “We’ve lost games before here, but this [season] just feels different, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s not fun. But we’ve got to figure something out.” We as sports fans can have pretty short memories, especially when it comes to football. The Pittsburgh Steelers started off 1-2-1, and everyone was saying they were the third best team in their division, now they’re arguably a top 3 team in the AFC. The New Orleans Saints gave up 500 yards and 48 points in a week 1 loss against Tampa Bay, people were saying that last year was a fluke. New Orleans has yet to lose since that point. Sometimes good teams start slow, and seemingly every year one of those teams is the Green Bay Packers. They’re historically slow starters, as you can see in the table below.
A few things worth mentioning, yes this is the worst start they’ve had in a while, but barely. Green Bay hasn’t gotten off to a hot start since 2011 when they went 15-1, and failed to win a playoff game. They’ve only started better than 5-3 once, and that was 2015, when they won 6 straight to start the season, and then lost 4 of 5 (that was the season where Rodgers’ R-E-L-A-X quote happened). In 2013, Green Bay was 5-6-1 after 12 games. Since 2011, they’ve only had 2 seasons where they made the playoffs without some sort of drama. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and Green Bay always finishes strong. You might argue, every year’s different, the 2018 Packers are not the 2016 Packers. Well, then lets talk about the 2018 Packers.
It’s said pretty frequently that the Packers are a bad team getting carried by Aaron Rodgers. Honestly, I just don’t think that’s a fair statement. They certainly have their issues, however in terms of yards they have the 16th best defense (20th in terms of points). I know they lost HaHa Clinton-Dix, and that’s certainly a significant piece. But their secondary still played pretty well against the Patriots without him. I added together each teams offensive ranking and defensive ranking, and the top 5 teams are below.
(I know this isn’t the best way to see how good a team really is, but I still thought it was fascinating.)
As you can see, Green Bay’s tied for fifth here. The only other team on that chart that’s not in a playoff spot is Baltimore, and they were looking really good before they collapsed in their past few games. I also think it’s worth looking at who Green Bay has lost to. They lost to the Redskins, the Patriots and the Rams, who are all leading their divisions, and have a combined 20-6 record between them. Their other loss was in a divisional matchup against Detroit, which was a game they absolutely could’ve won had Mason Crosby not forgotten how to kick for that week. Not to mention all of their losses have come on the road. If it wasn’t for 2 poorly timed fumbles by the Packers, there’s a very real chance that they’re 5-2-1, with 2 wins against the Rams ans Patriots, both of whom are arguably the best team in the NFL. I think it’s fair to say that the Packers are a much better team than their record indicates. Let’s take a look at their remaining schedule.
I marked down 4 games that I think the Packers should probably win. Miami is currently 5-4, but with Brock Osweiler scheduled to start, Green Bay should feel good. I also think the Packers will be able to defeat Detroit on week 17, since the Lions will have nothing to play for, and they’ll be playing at Lambeau Field (and no explanation’s really needed for why I think they’ll beat the Cardinals and Jets). That leaves 4 games that could go either way, but are still very much winnable. Those being against Seattle, Minnesota, Atlanta and Chicago. If the Packers just go 2-2 in those games, and win the 4 that they should win (I know that’s easier said then done, but it’s still very possible) then Green Bay would be 9-6-1, which is good enough to get into the playoffs about 50 percent of the time. If they go 3-1 in those 4 games, that’d be 10-5-1, which gets you into the playoffs every time. I’m not saying they’re definitely going to make the playoffs, but they absolutely have a good chance to.