As the Green Bay Packers enter their bye week, it’s fair to say that the start to the team’s 100th season has not gone according to plan. A popular preseason Super Bowl pick out of the NFC, the Packers find themselves with a record of 3-2-1 and tied for second in the division behind the Chicago Bears (3-2).
Simply put, the team has been average. They’re a few missed opportunities and bad calls from legitimately being 5-1 or 6-0. At the same time, without some clutch heroics and lucky breaks they could also easily be 1-5. Instead, they find themselves firmly in between those very plausible best- and worst-case scenarios.
But the Packers are still leaving a lot to be desired. The 3-2-1 start is their worst since 2012, when Green Bay started 3-3 before winning eight of its last 10 games. Statistically, the yards have come easy, but the points have not. On offense, the Packers are 4th in yards per game (421.0) but just 15th in points (24.7). It’s a similar story defensively, where Green Bay surrenders the 7th-fewest yards (328.3) but again rank 15th in points allowed (24.0).
In spite of the team’s inability to string together four quarters of good football, the Packers find themselves in a pretty good position for a postseason run coming out of their bye. That comes courtesy of the NFC North–as well as almost the entire NFC–looking like Green Bay: just average.
First, look at the current state of Green Bay’s division. The Packers, Bears, and Vikings are all tied with three wins, and the Lions are right behind them with a pretty “meh” 2-3 record. Chicago had a chance to get a big leg up in the North, but squandered a late lead to the Dolphins on Sunday. They still sit atop the division, but by a margin of just half a game over the 3-2-1 Packers and Vikings.
An argument can be made that none of the combined 9 wins by Minnesota, Chicago, and Green Bay are even that impressive. The Packers are the only one of the three to beat a team currently over .500, that being the 3-2 Bears. The combined opponents’ record in the Vikings’, Bears’, and Packers’ wins is 17-35. Detroit boasts the “best” win in the division, over the New England Patriots, but also lost (badly) to the New York Jets. No one in the NFC North has made an indication that they’re the team to beat, giving the Packers an opportunity to make a run at another division title.
Even if Minnesota or Chicago emerges as the top team in the North, a largely unimpressive conference gives Green Bay legitimate hope for a wild card berth. Through the season’s first six weeks, only the Los Angeles Rams (the lone unbeaten team at 6-0) and the New Orleans Saints (the only other NFC team with four wins) look consistently good.
Eight teams, that’s half the conference, have three wins. Both the NFC North and NFC East have three teams within a half game of their respective division leads, as no one has looked particularly dominant through six games. So despite an average start for Green Bay, they’re in the same boat as the majority of the NFC: not pulling away, but not playing terribly.
The Packers will be heavily tested coming out of their bye, playing four out of five games on the road. That includes consecutive match ups against two of the few teams who haven’t looked just average so far, the Rams and Patriots. If Green Bay can emerge from their ensuing five-game stretch with at least a 6-4-1 record, they’ll be well-positioned in a conference and division that, so far, lack dominant teams.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .