If there’s one thing we know about sports, it’s that the best team doesn’t always win it all. Often times, it’s simply about getting hot at the right time.
For much of this season, the Green Bay Packers have been thought of as an afterthought, a team with an MVP quarterback that just couldn’t get anything right. Aaron Rodgers hadn’t been playing well, the offense wasn’t clicking, and the defense was inconsistent. The Packers looked lost, as if years of dominance seemed to be running its course, and analysts across the NFL were calling for changes to be made. But after capping off a three game winning streak with a dominating 38-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the views on these Packers are changing rapidly.
The Packers are surging at the right time, as the parity at this point in the NFL season has reached a critical point. The NFC is full of inconsistent teams, and even the Dallas Cowboys who sit at 11-2 have been lackluster the past few weeks. Divisions are close contests, and there aren’t many teams that have been incredibly dominant this season.
Enter the Packers, who in their division alone suddenly control their own destiny to get into the playoffs. Their remaining games are at the Chicago Bears (3-10), vs. Minnesota Vikings (7-6) and, finally, at Detroit Lions (9-4). At a record of 7-6, winning out for the Packers would give them the division crown, because a week 17 win over Detroit would give the Packers a season sweep over the Lions. Doesn’t a home playoff game sound nice, Packers fans?
Green Bay’s offense has been impressive as of late, and is the main reason for the roaring praise of the Packers recently. According to Pro Football Focus, Aaron Rodgers has been the best quarterback in the league since week seven, and his receivers have stepped up as well. Davante Adams, off of an impressive performance against Seattle Sunday (four catches for 104 yards), is a wideout that no secondary in the NFL wants to face right now. The consistency of veterans Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb is a privilege that not every NFL team has. Ty Montgomery has emerged as a pivotal dual-threat player for the Packers, who has proved that he can contribute both in the backfield and as a receiver. With the addition of Christine Michael, Montgomery now has the luxury of being able to take fewer snaps at halfback, giving the Packers a more balanced running attack.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers have only given up 36 total points in their last three games, including only 10 to the Seahawks last weekend (while not to mention snagging five interceptions from Russell Wilson). The Packers have gotten a great deal healthier recently, with defensive backs Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall now back from groin injuries, and it is showing in the way that the defense is playing. The more turnovers this defense can create, the more time that Aaron Rodgers and the offense have to work their magic.
One area of concern for the Packers has been the health of Aaron Rodgers, who will be limited in physical preparation leading into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. After suffering a right calf strain against the Seahawks, there’s reason for fans to wonder whether Rodgers will be at 100%. But Rodgers has requested that coach McCarthy not hold back anything this week. Luckily for the Packers, the game next weekend is their easiest game in the final stretch, and hopefully Rodgers will not have to carry too much of the load.
The Packers are heating up, and the NFL better watch out.