Last season the Packers finished the regular season with an impressive 13-4 record. They were one of the early season favourites for the Super Bowl alongside the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams failed to go all the way when it came down to the playoffs, and the Los Angeles Rams ended up securing the Vince Lombardi trophy in an entertaining fashion.
This season, the Packers were once again a favourite for the playoffs and for a potential Super Bowl challenge. Much of the optimism coming from having kept hold of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But the NFL season hasn’t gone to plan so far.
The Packers currently sit third in the NFC North with a record of 5-8. That is double the losses experienced last season with four fewer games played. On top of that, the Detroit Lions who were the bottom-ranked side again last season with 3-13 have somehow turned around their fortunes with a current record of 6-7 in this campaign. In fact, the Lions are two more wins from equalling the total victories experienced across their previous two seasons combined.
So, while division rivals’ improvement may have brought around a certain change in fortune. The question remains, why are the Packers struggling so much and can they still make the playoffs?
What has gone wrong for the Packers?
Well, it’s certainly not a case of not getting points on the scoreboard. In over 50% of their games, this season the Packers have registered in excess of 20 points. In fact, they’ve registered double figures in all games but two where the Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 and the Lions 15-9. This shows that the issues clearly lie at the defensive end. It didn’t start off all that bad though, with three wins from their four opening games. However, only two wins from the last nine have left them in a bit of a dubious position.
So, what is the key reason for the change in form? Simply put, the Packers are making too many mistakes. The team are failing to intercept balls and not applying pressure correctly to their opposition’s offensive lines. Gaps are being found and they’re giving teams too many chances to break through. These are your bugs. You can’t quite just move the Packers to a new league though where things are better for them, you have to fix the existing problems.
This could mean an overhaul in the new season, getting rid of some of the ageing talents, and building the foundation for a fresh young squad to take over. It will take time, but if spent wisely, could prove to be very successful.
Can they still make the playoffs?
Statistically speaking, yes, they can. They only have a few games left to turn things around though and with their form, it could all come down to a spot of luck with how other results go around them. They’re not going to do it by winning their division, but they do need to start winning games. They then need to see other teams with a better or similar record to them start to fall off. This would help them secure a wild card spot that could see them get into the playoffs. And once they’re there, it’s a fresh clean slate.
It isn’t going to be an easy task though, because up next, they have last season’s Super Bowl winners the Rams followed by the Miami Dolphins. Then two incredibly important weeks to finish off against their division rivals, the Vikings and the Lions.
Those final two could be the games that help the Packers save their season. But only time will tell if they have left it too late.
For even more content like this check out our American Football section.