The Packers have been bad for a while now, but on Sunday, they hit rock bottom in a place that’s fairly familiar with the feeling — Nashville.
Green Bay was absolutely blown out by a Tennessee Titans team that took whatever it wanted from the Packers’ defense. Final score: Titans 47, Packers 25. Green Bay is now 4-5.
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The Packers’ offense is operating like a Big 12 program — Green Bay has only three rushing touchdowns this year, and all have been scored by quarterback Aaron Rodgers – and playing defense like one, too. Sunday was the fourth time in the Packers’ past five games they’ve allowed more than 30 points, with the pass defense being the main culprit for the failure.
The Packers are looking down the pipe at a 7-9 or 8-8 season, a highly disappointing performance from a team that many expected to contend for the NFC title this year.
But here’s the thing: The Packers are probably going to make the playoffs anyway — their schedule sets up for it.
They can thank the tire fire that is the NFC North for that.
The Vikings looked like a team that was going to take the division with ease earlier this season — they started the year 5-0 — but their house of cards offensive line fell (and then fell again, and again), and now Minnesota looks as if it’s going to have a hard time winning another game this year — they’ve lost four straight and look like a shell of the team they once were.
The Vikings play at Green Bay on Dec. 24 in what will likely be a playoff contention elimination game for both teams.
That leaves the favorites in the NFC North as the Detroit Lions. What a world we currently inhabit …
The Lions have a negative point differential this season and have been uninspiring at best. Matt Stafford can perform in the clutch — that’s a positive, but so far this season it’s fair to say Detroit’s top attribute has been luck.
The Lions spent Week 10 on a bye, surveying the damage around them. They also have a game against Jacksonville next week — they’re feeling good.
But they also will have road games against the Saints, Giants, and Cowboys in December. Their schedule sets up for a record regression to the mean, which is roughly 8-8.
And wouldn’t fate have it this way, the Lions and Packers will play each other in Week 17.
There are thousands, if not millions, of things that could happen between now and the first day of 2017, but despite all the positive vibes in Detroit and the panic in Wisconsin, those two teams should enter Week 17 with the division on the line at Ford Field.
Win the division, and you’re in the playoffs.
If both teams are 8-8, they both might make it — a Wild Card isn’t out of the question for a .500 team this season.
So while the Packers are no longer any good — don’t blame Rodgers — they might just be good enough to play for a Super Bowl berth anyway.