For the Green Bay Packers, later today, Sunday January 7th, 2024, their season and will come to a crossroads. In one path, the Packers will beat the Chicago Bears and make their way into the playoffs. In the other, the Packers will lose to the Bears and we Packers fans will have to hear it all offseason from the Bears fans. Oh, and the Packers will officially start their off-season with a big decision (probably already made) at defensive coordinator.
Let’s look at both of those options. If you are reading this article after Sunday’s game, then you can simply skip down to the path that the Packers have embarked upon. I want to stay positive. Let’s start with the winning path at this crossroad.
Crossroad Path #1 – Packers Win
The Packers win against the Bears. Well what does it mean? First of all, it means that the Packers long running rivalry against the Bears that has lasted over 100 years is not much of a rivalry anymore. The Packers have won the last nine games against the Bears. In the last ten years, the Green and Gold have a 17-2 record against Chicago. When Aaron Rodgers said he “owned” the Bears, he really meant it.
Secondly, and most importantly, the Packers will have punched their ticket into the post season. This is huge for such a young team. It gives Jordan Love and that young offense another game to play together, and it gives them playoff experience which will be huge going forward.
No one expects the Packers to make a run to the Super Bowl. I’m not saying they couldn’t shock the world, but this is more important heading into future years where the Packers will be looking to compete for a championship.
So, who would the Packers play in the wildcard if they were to go down this path? The Packers would either play the Eagles, Cowboys, or Lions.
If the Packers win and the Rams lose, then more than likely the Packers will head into Detroit for a rematch against the Lions.
If the Packers win and the Rams win, then the Packers could play either the Cowboys or the Eagles. This is based on whoever wins the NFC East. The Packers could play the Lions in this situation too, if the Cowboys and Eagles both lose their games.
No matter what, if the Packers make the playoffs, they are playing with house money. It’s good all the way around even if they get blown out in the playoffs.
Crossroad Path #2 – Packers Lose
This is the gross path at the crossroad, the path the Packers do not want to go on but could very well be forced down: the Packers lose to the Bears.
First of all, this path would mean that the Packers may not necessarily own the Bears anymore. It could mean that this lopsided rivalry could become more of a rivalry again. I’d hate to see the Packers lose, but it would be fun to see the Bears and the Packers have more of an exciting rivalry than what it has been.
This path, for the Bears, also makes their decisions with the first overall pick more interesting. Chicago might have to consider keeping Fields for another season and not picking draft prospects Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with the first overall pick. This could give the Bears confidence in Justin Fields and allow them to trade back from the first overall pick and draft Fields some crazy offensive weapons such as Marvin Harrison, Jr. As a Packers fan, I don’t know which Bears draft scenario would be worst. I just hope they screw up per usual!
Secondly, for the Packers, this doesn’t necessarily mean the Packers are out of the playoffs, believe it or not. If the Buccaneers or Saints lose, and the Vikings and Seahawks lose, the Packers will make the playoffs regardless of if they win or not.
Thirdly, more than likely, the Packers will not make the playoffs heading down this path. This means that the Packers will head into the offseason with another win-and-in loss. This path for sure would mean the firing of Joe Barry.
Oh, Joe Barry
The Packers would want to make sure the firing of Joe Barry happens before January 8th. Now, Matt LaFleur may not actually have to fire Barry if Barry’s contract is up. We don’t know for a fact that it is up. Most of us are thinking it is up because coordinator contract’s are usually for only three years.
The reason the Packers would want to make sure it is finalized by January 8th is because that’s when teams can start requesting interviews with candidates from other teams. If the candidate is coaching in the wildcard round, then the interview has to be done on January 8th and prior to the conclusion of Wild Card games, which are January 15th.
If the candidates’ teams makes the Divisional Round, then the interviews must be done after the Divisional Round is over and before the start of the Championship Round. No coordinator interviews can be requested after Championship Weekend for assistant coaches heading to the Super Bowl.
All this to say, the Packers will have to make some changes really quick if they want to get involved in the first wave of potential coordinators.
Things are going to happen fast for the Packers if they lose to the Chicago Bears. I expect the Packers off-season to begin with a bang.
The Path Leading Up To The Crossroads
No matter what happens on Sunday, this season has unequivocally been a success. The Packers learned a lot about their young offense and Jordan Love. I expect, come May, that Jordan Love is going to receive a long term extension. This season was all about evaluating Love and this young offensive team and it went well.
This season also showed that the defense still needs help. The defense has a ton of talent but are still missing some key pieces in the back end. This season has also showed us that Joe Barry is not the answer as Defensive Coordinator.
So, per usual, the Packers offense looks ready. The defense still needs a ton of help, but with the right hire, this team could be ready to compete by next year and may even be championship ready come 2025.
This season has been a success in my book no matter what.
Go Pack Go!——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.