After a solid 30-16 win over the Eagles on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers are 9-3, first in the NFC North and the second seed in the NFC playoff picture.
And yes, there’s been some highs, lows, head-scratchers and disappointments during this year. But, more often than not, the Packers somehow find ways to win. The squad outscored the Bears and Eagles, 71-41, over the past two weeks. Hopefully that means they’re peaking at the right time.
Now 75% done with the regular season, maybe the most important time of the year is coming up.
Cue the videos of college football sidelines holding up four fingers, because it’s time for the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s season. Here’s a look ahead at the final four games of the year.
@ Detroit Lions (5-7), Dec. 13
This game gives me a small bit of worry, because you never know which Lions team will show up. After falling behind by 10 with five minutes left in this weekend’s game against the Bears, the Lions somehow pulled out a 34-30 win to move to 5-7.
Gone is Matt Patricia, who struggled against Green Bay during his time there. But 34 points in Detroit’s first game with interim head coach Darrell Bevell is a good start to the transition.
However, if you’re a Lions’ fan you might be hoping to lose to improve draft stock. Detroit would have to win out for a chance at the playoffs, and the squad has a tough four-game stretch to finish out the year.
If the Packers play like they’re capable of, this should be another NFC North victory.
vs. Carolina Panthers (4-8), Dec. 19
A lot of Packers’ fans should have interest in this game for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is the fact this game will happen on a Saturday night, but another is Christian McCaffrey should be healthy and ready to roll.
I’m personally interested to see if the Packers’ defense can successfully defend McCaffrey — or if Aaron Rodgers and the boys on that side of the ball will have to score more points in a shootout.
If the Packers can slow down a much more versatile Carolina team with McCaffrey, then I’ll feel much more confident heading into the playoffs. An above average defense can work wonders paired with a successful offense.
vs. Tennessee Titans (8-4), Dec. 27
This is the game that I’m most worried about during this four-game stretch. The Packers have traditionally struggled against run-heavy teams, and Derrick Henry is a workhorse for Tennessee.
The Titans’ punch-you-in-the-mouth offense will rely heavily on Henry and a much-better Ryan Tannehill. This will be a good test to see where Green Bay is really at moving into the playoffs.
An NFC vs. AFC battle of two playoff teams will surely be enjoyable to watch. But I’m hoping that Green Bay has learned some lessons from close losses earlier in the year against similar styles of teams: i.e. Colts, Vikings.
@ Chicago Bears (5-7), Jan. 3
Since starting 5-1, the Bears have lost six in a row. Granted, the squad has played four, potentially five, playoff teams in that six-game stretch. However, if you’re a Chicago fan you can’t expect to lose just because you’re playing a team with a winning record.
But if you’re a Packers’ fan, this has been an enjoyable six weeks.
I’m interested to see where the Bears are at before the last week of the season. Who knows? They could have three wins with favorable matchups coming up in the next few weeks against the Texans, Vikings and Jaguars. Or, Chicago keeps losing and the game has no real meaning that week for the team.
It will have plenty of meaning to Green Bay, who will probably be vying for a better playoff seeding at that point.
It’s an exciting time to be a cheesehead. Go Pack Go.——————
Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.