After a brief absence, the Green Bay Packers officially find themselves in the postseason once again. The Packers defeated the Chicago Bears in their 200th meeting, clinching a playoff spot and booting the Bears from playoff contention. The team sits at 11-3 and 4-0 in the NFCN.
Yet the negativity on social media would make one think the Packers are in a sorry state.
True, the second half of this season featured some unglamorous wins over struggling teams; Green Bay let New York, Washington, and Chicago stay in games far too long for comfort. But, alas, the Packers won. And they didn’t need otherworldly finishes to do so.
Unlike NFL Street, the best NFL video game of all time, there are no style points. The Packers have 11 well-earned wins (contrary to the “packers get all the calls!!!” narrative), and Matt LaFleur is the first head coach in franchise history to make the playoffs in his first season. That’s pretty cool.
For all the talk of the Packers needing to find an identity, they have one: they win in an ugly manner. And that’s always better than losing attractively.
The 2011, 2014, and late run of the 2016 Green Bay Packer teams were glass cannons; they could put 40 points and 500 yards of total offense up every game, but they also had to because the defense couldn’t stop anyone.
Defensive juggernauts like the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, 2015 Denver Broncos, and 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars were the opposite. These teams were protection-specced shields, but for all their success couldn’t always move the ball efficiently.
The 2019 Green Bay Packers are a roguish bag of tricks. Games are often ugly, frustrating affairs, but the team always seems to have the necessary tool to get the job done. Sometimes Aaron Jones is able to carry the team, sometimes the run game falters and Rodgers needs to go vintage Rodgers. Occasionally, the offense can’t do its job and the Smiths take over. In the Carolina game, the Packers D was able to contain Christian McCaffrey and hold on for a win, despite run defense being one of the most glaring weaknesses on this team.
Every week (well at least in 11 of them), the Green Bay Packers find a way to win. Is this approach sustainable? We’ll find out. U.S. Bank Stadium is a fortress of terror for the Packers, and the stakes for the Vikings game are high.
No other playoff team is perfect either. The 49ers often look like the best team in the NFL, but they also have home losses against the Falcons and almost lost to the Cardinals. The Saints, a complete-looking team to the eye, also lost to the 5-9 Falcons and had multiple games with closer results than comfortable. Even the Ravens, with wins over the Patriots, Seahawks, and 49ers, lost to the rudderless Cleveland Browns.
Every team has weaknesses and blind spots. It’s not a Packer-specific trait, and Green Bay shouldn’t be torn down by fans and the media any more than these teams are.
If the Green Bay Packers can continue their winning ways into January, no one will care if it took an ugly win over the New York Giants to get to the postseason. Ugly or pretty, wins are what matters, and the Packers have a good collection of them.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.