After a 27-10 blowout loss to the New York Jets in which the Packers looked utterly helpless, it’s realistic to question if a Packers playoff hunt come their Week 14 bye in December is still on the table.
The NFL season is officially a third of the way over and while teams can still evolve before the playoffs, six weeks is a decent sample size to evaluate the strength of teams. The Packers are in a place of uncertainty and worry they haven’t been in years, and the next seven weeks will be crucial in determining the fate of their season.
Let’s look at their potential record heading into Week 14 and where they would stand in relation to other NFC teams at that point.
The Packers are 1-2 so far in October. They had an overtime victory at Lambeau over the 3-3 Patriots that was too close for comfort, considering the Patriots played their third-string backup for almost the entire game.
They suffered a let-down loss to the Giants in London that isn’t as painful in retrospect, considering the Giants are now 5-1 after a win over the Ravens and are slowly gaining legitimacy week after week. That was followed up by the blowout loss to the 4-2 Jets Sunday at home in what was Green Bay’s most incompetent performance of the season.
What’s next for the Packers? They now begin a three-game road trip, two of which will round out October’s schedule.
The Packers travel to Landover, Maryland next week to take on the 2-4 Washington Commanders. The Commanders have victories over the lackluster Jaguars and Bears and generally look like one of the bottom-tier teams in the league. Despite an awful performance Sunday and being on the road, the Packers should be able to take care of business versus the Commanders.
That moves the Packers to 4-3 as they head to Buffalo to take on the 5-1 Bills. The Bills are the Super Bowl favorites, especially after a huge win over the Chiefs Sunday that proved no other team in the AFC is on their level right now.
Buffalo is simply more talented and better coached than Green Bay. A win here would completely shift the momentum and narrative surrounding the Packers’ season, but watching these two teams play Sunday, it’s like they’re playing a different sport right now. This could very well end in a 38-13 type of fashion in Buffalo’s favor.
This has the Packers finishing 2-3 in October and 4-4 overall.
The Packers cap off their three-game road trip in Detroit versus the Lions to kick off the November slate. This game feels like a toss-up, and it’s hard to predict the volatile Lions week to week. Detroit had the top scoring offense for the first four weeks of the season before getting shut out 29-0 last week against the Patriots.
Although the Packers will be coming off so much traveling, the Lions defense is so awful that the Packers should be able to hold them off and score just enough to win a close game against a familiar opponent.
Despite such a strong statistical offensive start to the year, the Lions are still just 1-4. They have the feel of a team that could get worse and worse as spirits fall in a season that could end with the firing of coach Dan Campbell.
The Packers are then 5-4 heading into a game they certainly had circled on the calendar before the season. Mike McCarthy’s Dallas Cowboys visit Lambeau for the first time since McCarthy was fired in 2018.
The Cowboys are currently 4-2 despite starting quarterback Dak Prescott being sidelined due to injury since Week 1. Cooper Rush has stepped in Prescott’s place and done just enough to win games with the help of arguably the league’s best defense.
The Cowboys play the Lions and Bears before this matchup in Green Bay, so could likely enter the contest with a 6-2 record. Prescott is also expected to return to the lineup by this point.
Nothing on tape suggests the Packers offensive line will be able to stop the ferocious Cowboys defensive front. Dallas linebacker/pass-rusher Micah Parsons is in his second season and already has one of the best starts to a defensive career in NFL history thus far.
Green Bay could get some stops against the Cowboys offense, but the Cowboys defense is the last unit this struggling Packers attack wants to see. Expect the Packers to fall to 5-5.
The Packers are right back at home the following Thursday for a primetime game against the Tennessee Titans. Right now, the Titans are like the Packers in the sense that they don’t do anything particularly well. Tennesse has achieved stretches of competence and levels of average that have allowed them to win three games so far against similarly mediocre opponents.
The Packers have had a few more flashes of greatness in several facets that leads me to believe their ceiling is a bit higher than the Titans’. This should be a close game that could swing either way, but the Packers have a bit more talented roster that I think the final score will reflect.
Move the Packers up to 6-5 as they’re back on the road to face the currently undefeated Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. This one could get ugly.
There isn’t really a single thing Green Bay better than Philly. There are nightmare matchups for the Packers all over the place. The Eagles have a top five running game to pound against a miserably bad Packers’ run defense.
Philadelphia’s defense is stacked with talent on all levels. Aaron Rodgers will be under constant duress, especially if the Packers get behind early and need to abandon the run.
Like Buffalo, if the Packers somehow pull of a victory against Philadelphia, that’s a season-changing type of game. At this point, though, it’s almost impossible to imagine that happening.
That puts Green Bay at 2-2 in November and 6-6 overall.
The Packers have one matchup in December before their bye week and it’s in Chicago to face the Bears. If there’s one bright spot to this season, it’s that at least the Packers aren’t as terrible as the Bears.
The Bears are currently 2-4 and could very well be 2-10 heading into this game. The Packers handily disposed of Chicago in Week 2 to the tune of 27-10.
Say what you will about Aaron Rodgers and his play this season, but the man truly owns the Bears. Though this one could maybe be closer than the first matchup, Green Bay should win somewhat comfortably.
According to these predictions, the Packers will be 7-6 heading into their bye week, keeping them alive in the playoff hunt. That makes the games after the bye week especially crucial to the fate of their season.
Using the Playoff Predictors tool to pick the outcomes of the other NFC games through Week 14, the Packers sit at the 8th seed, just outside the playoffs. I have Atlanta, San Francisco and Tampa Bay with the same 7-6 record to this point and as the primary contenders with Green Bay for a wildcard playoff spot.
This is not the dominant Packers team we’ve seen over the past three years, but it’s still one that rightfully has playoff aspirations and enough talent to be in the hunt come December. Given the start to this season, that’s all we can really ask for.——————
Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.
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