An NFC North title to savor, despite playoff chances

The table has been run.

Aaron Rodgers’ famous feeling back when the Green Bay Packers were 4-6 will now live on forever as the star quarterback went out on a limb that nobody was willing to die on. He was called delusional, lost and not a leader, yet Rodgers is basically the reason the Packers ran the table and their reason for hope as the postseason begins.

Division titles are often forgotten about in Green Bay — since they have mostly become a routine over the last two decades — but this run should be appreciated and is something to be proud of. At 4-6 I didn’t think this was possible and neither did you. The Packers were dead and buried and everyone was wondering what was coming next. Nobody thought what was coming next was six straight victories and a home playoff game.

The 31-24 victory over the Lions was kind of a reflection of the season with cornerbacks Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and Makinton Dorleant all exiting due to injuries. The Packers were left with Micah Hyde at outside corner alongside Ladarius Gunter, which are two guys running about a 4.6 40-yard dash, and Morgan Burnett and Kentrell Brice manning the slots. Mike McCarthy said in his postgame press conference that they were down to three calls available on defense. It’s unreal that they were able to hang on.

The cornerback situation obviously puts a huge damper on what the Packers can do in the postseason, which is truly a shame with how Rodgers and the offense are playing. They seriously might need to go sign a veteran off the street to fill out the secondary for a playoff game, which is not something you want to hear when Odell Beckham Jr. is coming to town.

The Giants come in with Eli Manning as the quarterback who has broken the hearts of the Packers twice, but this is a very different team from those ones, rendering those games from 2007 and 2011 useless. New York has been anemic offensively this season when the ball is not in Beckham’s hands, as the star wideout has pretty much been its whole offense. Manning has struggled at times this year behind a poor offensive — Marshall Newhouse and Ereck Flowers have been turnstiles at the tackles — have no threat at tight end and no real running game, although Paul Perkins has added some juice late in the season.

The defense has been the backbone for the Giants all season, particularly the secondary of Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple and their stout run defense led by Damon “Snacks” Harrison. This presents a problem for the Packers, since there are times they struggle against good man coverage. The Packers did find success running with Eddie Lacy in the first matchup (11 carries, 81 yards) and will need to repeat that with Ty Montgomery.

Jared Cook will have to come up huge, as the Giants have been perhaps the worst team defending the tight end in the NFL all season.

The Packers defeated the Giants at Lambeau Field, 23-16, on Oct. 10 behind a pass rush that gave Eli Manning no chance to complete passes down the field. That history will have to repeat itself if the Packers want to hold the Giants under 30 points, despite New York not reaching that mark all season long. Some poor weather and a slower track breaking Green Bay’s would help that cause. The demons of that other history of disappointing exits at the hands of the Giants will have to be put to the side as the Packers look to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home.

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Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.

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  • Nick Perry

    Matt’s right, I had wrote off the season after those 4 straight losses. not so much the losses but the WAY they lost and the number of points given up. I’m not lying when I say I was already looking at “Mock Drafts” wondering if the Packers would have a Top 10 pick.

    This Offense will carry this team as far as they can possibly go. BUT in the 2nd half last night without even ONE of their starting CB’s in the line-up the held the Lions to 10 points, 7 which were a prayer.

    I know one thing, I’ll never count them out again.

  • mark gast

    Please don’t lose to the Giants at home in the playoffs again!

  • James C. Drumheller III

    Sam Shields was our best corner and hasn’t played since week one against the Jaguars. My question is why didn’t they go out and try to sign someone if they knew he wasn’t coming back and it looks like he’ll retire. I know we’re a draft and develop team so I guess I just answered my own question.

  • mark gast

    After I looked at the stats from both Lion games I saw that the Packers played better on offense and defense in the last game, with more on the line. As the season has gone along they have gotten better so that gives hope for the playoffs.