Saturday, December 3, 2016

Running the Table?

Davante Adams TD, Photo by Dan Powers, USA Today
The saying goes that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  If that is so, the proof of Aaron Rodgers' comment that the Packers would run the table would have to begin with a single win, as it did on Monday night at the Eagles, 27-13.  And it was certainly a pleasure to watch a Packers win, for the first time after a four-game losing streak, and an even greater pleasure to see the Packers play well in all three phases of the game.  All four if you count coaching, as both McCarthy and Capers seemed to have excellent game plans in the same game!  Which doesn't happen all that often.

Although, to be honest, after the first two drives of the game, the game looked like it might be another one of those no defense, 48-47 affairs, with the last team with the ball winning the game.  But the Packers' defense (and, for that matter, the Eagles' defense to a lesser extent) settled down rather nicely.  And even the special teams contributed, especially with the punt downed at the one yard line (although the kick was very close to being a touchback).  Since the Eagles ended up scoring a FG on the drive, it is good that they had to go all the way from the 1 in order to score.  A touchback could easily have led to a touchdown.

Davante Adams put on a show again on offense, catching 5 passes for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns.  It is safe to say that he won't spend any more time on my fantasy football bench.  You can certainly make a case that Adams is the best performer on offense right now, other than Rodgers himself.  Rodgers was driving us all crazy just a few weeks back, but the adjustment that was made over a few weeks, to move toward a quick-release, dink and dunk offense (and I do not mean that as an insult, but as a compliment in the context of this season), with occasional shots down the field, has really brought him back on the right path.  Argue it however you will, I think he has looked good to excellent in 5 of the last 6 games, with the Titans game being the major exception.  So even though they lost 4 of those games, it is hard to put those losses all, or even mostly, on Rodgers.

So are the Packers in a position to run the table, squeak into the playoffs, and make some noise in the playoffs?  It's a little hard for me to see that happening.  For starters, I don't think it is reasonable to assume they can win all their remaining games, even though three of the five are at home.  I especially have a hard time seeing them beating the Lions in the dome in week 17.  Yes, I know, the Packers were leading the Lions 31-3 in the first game before the Lions started their comeback.  But it is hard to argue that the Lions have not played as the better team for the rest of the season to date.

Still, who knows?  It has been a crazy season in many ways.  You can think back to the improbable 2010 Super Bowl run, but in fairness, even though the Packers truly had to sneak their way into the playoffs that year before getting hot, they still had a 7-4 record after 11 games, unlike this year's team's 5-6 record.  As of today, the Packers would have to leapfrog over 4 other teams (Saints, Vikings, Buccaneers and Redskins) just to sneak in as the 6th seed in the playoffs.  That is a tall order, but they have 5 weeks to do it.  Getting by the Lions to win the division would be even better, but bear in mind, the Lions have won 6 of their last 7 games, so that is no small task.  But apparently Brett Favre, on his SiriusXM radio show, has predicted that the Packers will win the North.

The Packers play the Texans at Lambeau Field tomorrow.  The Texans have a better record, at 6-5, and lead their division, so they are not pushovers.  But they have won only once on the road (at the Jaguars), have lost two in a row, and of course are without the great J.J. Watt for the rest of the season.  Brock Osweiler, who everybody expected to take over for Peyton Manning in Denver, went to the Texans instead.  But he hasn't played all that well, throwing more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12), despite having some quality receivers (Hopkins, Fuller, Fiedorowicz).  So maybe the Packers will have another few chances for takeaways tomorrow.

I think the Packers should win this game.  That would be very welcome, as it would keep the chances for a playoff berth realistic.  Go Packers!

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