Four in a row for the Packers; can you believe it?
I certainly don't and you probably don't, either. Just five weeks removed from my particularly scathing article about the Packers' issues and four weeks after their "surprising" win over Dallas, the Packers have gone on a tear, winning four games in a row.
Once at 4-4 and coming off a loss to a then-"all-defeated" (neologism time!) team, the Packers now have a solid 8-4 mark and have found themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt almost as quickly as it once seemed that their season was good as dead.
With the Packers' recent string of victories, comes a slew of questions and I'll attempt to answer three of them to the best of my knowledge.
Is This Really "Success"?
Lame as this question may sound, it's nevertheless a valid one, at least when asked in terms of their statistics.
Nobody's denying that their recent win-loss total is a success; they've got a perfectly agreeable 8-4 record as of this writing, guaranteeing their 16th non-losing season in their last 18. If they win another game, they've wrapped up their 14th winning season in that same span of time.
However, the offensive line, and the entire team's second-half performances has been questionable, and remains at the forefront of many a Packer fan's mind.
Sure, the Packers' line seems to be putting it together in recent weeks, but what happens if they begin to fall back into their old ways? If we get too complacent with our recent victories, this could unfortunately become a very realistic possibility. If Tampa Bay did it, then Seattle can too.
The Packers, as mentioned a few paragraphs up, also seem to have an issue with holding together leads as any given game wears on.
Take the San Francisco 49ers and last night's victory over Baltimore, for example. In both cases, each game started out as domination by the green and gold (including a 17-0 lead over the Ravens last night at halftime), but quickly became falls to the finish in the second half, with the 49ers losing by less than seven points, and the Ravens mounting a potential comeback until defenders such as Tramon Williams and A.J. Hawk really began clicking in the fourth quarter.
Despite ultimately ending up on top in both of the aforementioned examples, I'll invoke a gambler's fallacy of sorts here and state that the Packers are due for a come apart loss if they don't shape up their late-game performances on both ends of the field rather soon.
Ah, yes, the time-honored guessing game of speculating as to a team's final record. I'm highly reluctant to indulge in such speculation in any sport for a variety of reasons, the biggest being my oft-cited example of seeing the 2002 Saints and Packers, both with 7-2 and 8-1 records, through their first nine games, respectively—as potential Super Bowl contenders.
Despite my usual refusal to do so I'll go on record in this article as forecasting a 10-6 or better finish for the Pack.
Why not? Their remaining schedule isn't all that impressive, with the exception of the certain-hick-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken slaying Arizona Cardinals. If a perfect storm happens and I manage to find a cure for all the world's ailments overnight, they might even go 12-4; doubt it though.
If this had been around the time of my first anti-Mike McCarthy article, my second anti-Mike McCarthy article, or even my Dallas victory writeup, I would've done my best Jim Mora impression if asked about the Packers' playoff hopes, complete with white wig and Mickey Mouse voice. After all, to quote our favorite underachieving former Colts and Saints coach, they were pretty much doing diddly poo up to that point.
Of course, as is quite evident from this week's perspective, things can certainly change in four weeks' time. The Packers are well within range of a wild card berth; heck, they're only two games behind the Vikings, who technically still have yet to clinch their division.
All in all, I'll say this much: It's well within the Packers' reach and if they stay hungry, they can ultimately achieve it.
Like Led Zeppelin once said, there's still time to change the road you're on. Perhaps that rang true for the green and gold in the wake of Tampa Bay; much like the Saints and the Super Bowl, only time will tell.
Such is football.