It seemed unimaginable at the beginning of this season that the incredibly talented team Ted Thompson has put together over the past six years, including a young Pro-Bowl quarterback, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and a host of offensive weapons, could miss the playoffs.
But now, 11 games into the season, the Packers would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. The Packers currently hold the eighth spot in the NFC, a game behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North and behind the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for one of the two available wild card spots.
The Packers have done a commendable job of overcoming season-ending injuries to both starters as well as key reserves, but they still seem unable to win close games—which at this point is what is keeping them from being an elite team in the NFL. The Packers' four losses this season have all been by a field goal, and their past six losses have all come in either overtime or with fewer than 10 seconds on the clock.
The Packers' remaining schedule is a difficult one. After this week's home game against the disappointing 49ers, the Packers must go on the road to face the much improved Lions and the Patriots, who rarely lose at Gillette Stadium. The Packers will close out the season with two crucial home games, first against the New York Giants, who may be battling the Packers for one of the final wild card spots, and the January 2nd game against the Chicago Bears, which very well could determine who wins the NFC North.
The good news for the Packers? The Bears have an even tougher schedule remaining, with home games against the Jets and Patriots and road games against the Lions and Vikings, plus the aforementioned season-ending game at Lambeau Field.
The Packers control their own destiny from here on out. If they want to prove that they are one of the elite teams in the league, they are going to need to win some big games during this final stretch and most likely learn how to win a few close ones as well.
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