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Breaking Down the Road to NFL Playoffs for the Green Bay Packers

Matt SmithContributor IIIOctober 30, 2016

Breaking Down the Road to NFL Playoffs for the Green Bay Packers

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    Even with their recent string of injuries, the Green Bay Packers have to be feeling pretty good about themselves going into the bye week.

    Some of those injuries will heal with time (hopefully the bye week) and they've reeled off four straight wins.

    On top of that, replacements like Brad Jones, Casey Hayward and Jerron McMillian are all playing extremely well.

    The Packers are 6-3 and seem primed for a playoff berth but, as we know, things don't always go as planned, especially with the rest of the schedule.

Detroit Lions

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    Of Green Bay's seven games remaining, five of them are divisional battles, including two against Detroit. One game is at Detroit in Week 11 after the Packers' bye, and the other is in Week 14 in Green Bay.

    The Lions were expected to take another step forward this year, but at 4-4 it doesn't look like they have. They lead the league in passing yards per game, yet QB Matthew Stafford's erratic throws and oftentimes poor mechanics have gotten them into trouble at times.

    The Packers match up well with the Lions, as they have the talent to slow down the Lions on both sides of the ball.

    The one wild card will be in Week 11, if Clay Matthews is out. If he is, they likely won't be able to get much, if any pressure on Matthew Stafford.

    These will be tough games, especially the first one, but the Packers can deal a knockout blow to the Lions if they sweep them.

New York Giants

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    After their Week 12 date with the Lions, the Packers head to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants, who haven't shown much of a Super Bowl hangover.

    This game, as well as the Lions game, could come down to the presence, or lack thereof, of Clay Matthews. I expect Matthews to miss the Lions, but give this game a go.

    The Giants defense has a fearsome front four led by DE Jason Pierre-Paul, but an atrocious secondary.

    This game will likely be close and a shootout, but the scale tips in favor of the Giants if Manning is able to sit in the pocket all day because Clay Matthews is out.

Minnesota Vikings

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    After a sizzling start to the season, the Vikings have seemingly regressed in recent weeks due to poor defensive play and an erratic Christian Ponder.

    The Vikings possess two of the game's most dynamic players in Percy Harvin, who Packers fans should hope Randall Cobb develops into minus the injuries, and the superhuman freak known as Adrian Peterson.

    The Packers play them in Weeks 13 and 17.

    The key here is simple. Shut down Adrian Peterson and force the Vikings to air it, preferably to a player other than Percy Harvin.

    A balanced offensive approach should work here, as the Vikings run defense has been exposed in recent weeks by players like LaRod Stephens-Howling.

    The Packers will go into these games as the favorites.

Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears are 7-1 right now and playing out of their minds.

    While I'm not convinced they're as good as their record indicates because of their overlooked offensive issues, they're winning games right now and that's all that really matters.

    However, the Bears are scoring and forcing turnovers on defense at an unsustainable rate. They'll still get stops all the same, but the turnover and touchdown rates are likely to decline.

    The Packers and Bears will meet in Chicago in Week 15 in a game that could determine the division winner.

    The Bears have a two-game lead on the Pack, but the Packers hold the tiebreaker from earlier, meaning this will be a critical game if there's a one-game difference or tie by then.

    Although the first game wasn't particularly close, the Bears seem like they've gotten a bit better.

    This will be must-watch TV.

Tennessee Titans

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    The Titans' offense could be really good but just isn't, due to a number of things.

    They have a legitimate playmaking tight end in Jared Cook, but severely under-utilize him.

    Chris Johnson seems to have regained his old form, but can't be counted on every game. 

    Also, who's their quarterback? Is it Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker? Is it a coincidence that when Matt Hasselbeck was winning games that the Titans said Jake Locker needed more time when he was practicing, but after Hasselbeck lost again that Jake Locker was suddenly quite healthy?

    On the defensive side, the Titans have had trouble too. Some players play well one week and awful the next. They need their whole unit to show up.

    Green Bay should have no trouble with this one in front of their home crowd in Week 16.

Green Bay Packers

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    The Green Bay Packers have the talent to keep up with any team in the league, that much was confirmed in their drubbing of the Texans in Week 6.

    Whether they can overcome the injury bug or a few problems like the offensive line and running game is another question, though.

    All in all, the Packers' record seems like it'll be as high as 12-4 or low as 10-6.

    The difference between those two is a division win and a Wild Card spot.

    As long as Aaron Rodgers' squad wins the games they should, they should be in good shape for the playoffs.

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