Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Packers lose NFC North Championship to Vikings

Well, Packer fans...that was certainly depressing, wasn't it? A 20-13 loss to Minnesota -- at Lambeau Field -- to put the Packers four-game NFC North division winning streak to an end. (Sigh)

But honestly, we've come to expect being disappointed ever since the Week 7 bye week passed, haven't we? Undefeated going into the bye...4-6 afterward. What the heck happened?

Oh, we know very well what's happened: no big plays, receivers that can't get separation, receivers that drop passes and can't break tackles, an offensive line that has been banged up since the start of the season and has a hard time opening lanes for runners and setting pass protection for the quarterback. And speaking of the quarterback...missing throws that used to be automatic and under constant pressure.

A familiar scene in recent weeks: QB Aaron Rodgers getting sacked.
(Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Everyone knows what the problems are, including opposing teams. But apparently, not even the coaching staff or players are able to correct course. Still, nobody can get this sorted out except the players themselves. They need to execute, whatever the game plan is.

For whatever the reasons, this has been a woefully underperforming team since Week 8. How bad is it? Even the players think they are going nowhere, according to former Packers TE Mark Chmura on ESPN Wisconsin yesterday; that sure can't help. You can listen to his comments here.

For the first time since 1968 and the era of head coach Phil Bengston, the Packers lost all their home games to their three division opponents. Remarkable...in a bad sense. In their last two games of the regular season, the Pack, as we know, went 0-2. If they had gone 2-0, they would have gotten the number 2 seed and a bye in the NFC playoffs instead of being on the road with a number 5 seed. Two more wins. Two. More. Wins.

So many missed opportunities game to game and as a season.

The Packers were exposed in many ways and became easy to defend by team after team. The Packers defense held opponents to high-teens scoring for the most part; but the offense had a hard time getting first downs let alone touchdowns.

Can the Packers beat Washington? Of course the possibility exists. The probability??? The Packers are currently listed as 1-point underdogs against a Washington team that won 4 of its last 5 games behind a red-hot quarterback by the name of Kirk Cousins. "Voice of the Packers," Wayne Larrivee, when asked Monday if the Pack could beat Washington, replied that Washington, particularly because of its defense, could be beaten. But considering the Packers have scored a total of just 4 touchdowns in the last three games...?

Unless the Packers find their lost confidence, believe in themselves and each other, and execute, this will be a one-and-done playoff experience. There will be some big changes in the offseason for the Packers, whenever it starts. What those changes will be is anyone's guess.

We'll have more on the upcoming playoff game against Washington as game time nears. Stay tuned for more.