What the heck has happened to the Green Bay Packers?
This was the team that was a botched onside kick away from the Super Bowl last year. A team on a mission. The odds-on favorites to win the NFC this year and get to the Big Game. And they started out the season with a six-game winning streak.
Then came the loss at Denver in which Aaron Rodgers was held to seventy-nine yards passing. But it was against the best defense in the league, and it was at Denver, and it's beyond difficult to go undefeated in the NFL, which is why only two teams have done so in the regular season in the half-century-long Super Bowl era. And then came the loss at Carolina, but the Panthers, even if doing so "ugly," are the only undefeated team currently left.
But losing at home to the woeful Detroit Lions? That's when you knew that something was seriously wrong. Which you could have attributed to not having wideout Jordy Nelson this year and running back Eddie Lacy having an off year, but how did the Pack win their first six in a row, then?
The big test came the following week at Minnesota, and Green Bay passed with flying colors, blowing out the Vikings 30-13. The ship was righted....until losing another divisional game, at home, to another woeful foe in the Chicago Bears this past Sunday.
If I were a Packer fan, I wouldn't necessarily be panicking yet - they're still only a game out in the NFC North and get the Vikings at home - but I'd sure be scratching my head, or pulling hair out in frustration.
And now they go to Ford Field for a rematch with the Lions (#17 in my power rankings after having won four in a row, starting with that win at Lambeau). Still, Green Bay is #8 in those same rankings., and if they're merely mercurial, that should mean they'll be up this week and get the win, right?
Right - but it'll be razor-close.
Probably a come-from-behind win, for which cheeseheads should be hoping, in order for their team to regain something of the momentum with which their season began. Not that it'll affect playoff positioning - the NFC North winner is going to be the #3 seed, barring a major collapse from Carolina and/or Arizona, and the runner-up will be a wild card - but it may make the difference between deep playoff run and one-and-done.
Especially since the team nobody wants to play will be the other wild card.