Only half a game separates the Green Bay Packers from the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears in the tight NFC North race. For the Packers, the plan is simple: win the last three games and hope the Lions lose one of their final three games.
The Packers still have to play at the Dallas Cowboys, host the Pittsburgh Steelers, and finish the season in Chicago. The Lions have back-to-back home games against the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants, before finishing their season in Minnesota against the Vikings. The Bears have to play at the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns before they host the Packers in the season finale.
If the Packers want to stay in the playoff race, they are going to need to beat the Cowboys on Sunday. Whoever the starting quarterback is, either Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn, needs to take advantage of a weak Cowboys secondary. The defense also needs to shut down running back DeMarco Murray. During the Packers’ five game losing streak, the opposing running backs were able to knife through the Packers’ defense like butter. If the Packers can’t slow down Murray, they could be in for a long day.
Additionally, if the Packers were to win and the Lions were to lose this week, it would set up a potential winner take all game against the Bears the final week of the year. A loss by the Packers would require the Lions to lose at least one more game, and would require the Bears to not win this week so they would only remain a half game back.
If the Packers could win one more game without Aaron Rodgers, it would give the team a tremendous amount of momentum heading into the final two games of the year. In 2010, Rodgers missed one game because of a concussion, and the Packers almost beat the New England Patriots with Matt Flynn under center. Also that week, the Packers needed the Giants to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles.
If you remember right, that was the game where Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson returned a punt for a touchdown as time expired to complete a 21 point fourth quarter comeback. Rodgers returned the following week as the Packers destroyed the Giants, beat the Bears the final week of the year to make the playoffs, and eventually won the Super Bowl.
While it would be nice for history to repeat itself, I think that the Packers need to beat the Cowboys on Sunday, rather than lose the first of their last three games like they did against the Patriots. The odds of the Lions losing to the Giants at home and to the dysfunctional Vikings are very small. The best chance for Green Bay to make up ground is this week, since the Lions play the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. Last week was a much needed win for the team. This week is a must win to go to the playoffs.
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