The Packers landed a solid 38-26 win over the ever-dangerous LA Rams on Sunday afternoon which essentially secured their third consecutive division title. And while the Vikings are not yet mathematically eliminated, it’s close enough so that we can discuss bigger and better things for the Packers as our focus on the postseason becomes sharper.
But first, let’s talk about their most recent game in which Aaron Rodgers overcame an injured toe and a decimated offensive line to toss for 307 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and connected on over 62 percent of his passes with one of the most feared pass-rushing units swarming his second and third-string linemen. Oh, and this was all accomplished after a full week of taking zero reps.
“It definitely isn’t the ideal situation not to practice,” Rodgers said. “But if I can go out there, take mental reps, go through the plan and my preparation and feel good about what I’m doing, and when I get out there, I’ve just got to rely on my instincts. The beauty is it’s an 11-person-a-side game, and I really feel the offensive line allowed me just to settle in.”
The interesting part of this matchup, from not only a fan’s perspective, but that of the oddsmakers was that the heavy betting was pouring in on the Rams. The original line on this game showed the Packers as 1 ½ point home favorites but when the game kicked, the line had drifted to Rams -2 which is a 3 ½ point line move. No doubt that had to do with many of the injuries dealt to the Packers and the uncertainty of Rodgers’ ability, or lack thereof, to move in the pocket and pivot off of his injured toe.
Those who had faith in Green Bay and its future Hall of Fame quarterback were handsomely rewarded in their NFL picks as the Packers proved the oddsmakers and the sharps wrong who believed it was the Rams’ game to lose. Rodgers was sacked only once which was a moral victory for the rag-tag offensive line that was patched together after enduring injuries to many of its starters.
We should also note that the Packers’ defense was responsible for two fumble recoveries and a Rasul Douglas interception that was returned 33 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Packers in front, 36-17. And speaking of Douglas, normally a rotational player, he was replacing the injured starter, Kevin King, and had a profound effect on the outcome of the game with his late pick.
Douglas said after the game, “That’s what we need. We’re a great team when we get turnovers, takeaways. We just pride ourselves on that. We get a chance to strip out the ball, get a chance for an interception, you’ve got to do it. We feed off that, off making those plays. Seeing the guys hyped, that makes all of us hyped as a team.”
What’s Next for the Pack?
Green Bay will have a bye this week which will come at an opportune time for the team to rest their bones, lick their wounds, and prepare for a date with their divisional rivals from Chicago. Below is Green Bay’s remaining schedule:
Week 13 BYE WEEK
Week 14 Sunday, December 12th vs Chicago Bears @8:20 PM (NBC)
Week 15 Sunday, December 19th at Baltimore Ravens @1:00 PM (FOX)
Week 16 Saturday, December 25th vs. Cleveland Browns @4:30 PM (FOX)
Week 17 Sunday, January 2nd vs. Minnesota Vikings @8:20 PM (NBC)
Week 18 Sunday, Jan 9th at Detroit Lions @1:00 PM (FOX)
When the Packers get back in action, they will have what should be a cupcake win over the Bears, especially if it resembles anything like their first meeting in which Green Bay claimed a 24-14 road win and limited Justin Fields to just 137 passing yards.
The following week the team will face its stiffest remaining test when they fly to Baltimore and face Lamar Jackson and the surging Ravens. Some are looking at this as a possible Super Bowl preview, although it is far more likely we see the Packers on February 13th rather than the Ravens, but it is not out of the realm of possibility, especially with a wide-open AFC playoff race.
In Week 16, the Packers will welcome the enigmatic yet disappointing Cleveland Browns to Lambeau Field. The Browns had high hopes entering this season but are a middling 6-6 after a dozen games and lost to the Ravens on Sunday night, 16-10.
The penultimate week of the regular season should be interesting as the Vikings could very well be the best 5-6 team in the league. They are a gritty, determined team that always seems to be in the ballgame even if they don’t emerge victorious. This would be an opportune time for the Packers to avenge their 34-31 loss to the Vikings in hostile territory a few weeks ago.
In a game that will only matter if the Packers are fighting for the No. 1 or No. 2 NFC seed, they should have a gimme here against the dismal Detroit Lions, a team they previously defeated, 35-17, in Week 2. After that, it’s off to the postseason and, if things go right, a Super Bowl-winning season in Green Bay!