Packers Will Have to Create Momentum in These Playoffs

Rather than streaking into the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers have dropped two in a row. It seems like an unlikely way to kick-start a playoff run.

The Packers are in the postseason for the seventh consecutive season — tied with New England for the longest streak in the NFL. However, for the first time in coach Mike McCarthy’s eight playoff appearances, the Packers are going in with no momentum.

2007: Won three of last four.

2009: Won seven of last eight.

2010: Won two in a row.

2011: Won two in a row after a 13-0 start.

2012: Lost at Minnesota in Week 17 but had won four in a row before the game.

2013: Won three of last four (including Aaron Rodgers’ game-winning touchdown bomb to Randall Cobb at Chicago).

2014: Won two in a row and seven of the last eight.

2015: Lost consecutive games, going from a potential No. 2 seed all the way to No. 5.

So, this is uncharted territory for McCarthy.

“I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, so there’s a big part of me that really likes where we are today,” he said on Monday. “I’ve never entered a contest I didn’t think I was going to win and that’s no different this week. We fully intend to get into this football team as far as the preparation. A lot of video, obviously, to get through. This is an uncommon opponent for our team. I know, particularly for myself, I didn’t know much about their defense until this morning. I’m looking forward to the challenge and we have every intention of going into Washington and winning Sunday night.”

In each of the prior playoff seasons, the Super Bowl seemed like a legit possibility. This season, nobody outside of the Packers’ locker room expects a Super Bowl run. There might not be many believers inside there, either.

“You’ve got to have confidence in yourself and your teammates,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after Sunday’s 20-13 loss to Minnesota. “Back when we went on a run in 2010, I don’t know if there was anybody in that locker room that knew that we could do that. There was a belief, but you have to kind of go out there and do it. You have to execute, you have to go in some hostile environments and play your best football, and that’s what we did in that run, and that’s what we’re going to have to do if we want to not be one-and-done this year.”

If the Packers are going to avoid a one-and-done and make their presence felt deep into January, they’re going to need their offense to shake out of a three-month slump. That unit has played well in flashes — the fourth-quarter rally at Carolina, the second-half comebacks against Detroit, the start and finish of the Dallas game, the fourth quarter against Minnesota — but hasn’t put together a strong four-quarter performance since early in the season.

“Each team has the abilities in different ways, different makeup and character, but we’ve just got to find a way to put it all together,” Rodgers said. “It’s been frustrating at times to not do that consistently enough in games. Today we had one decent quarter of football. That’s less than the two we’ve kind of been averaging the last six or seven games. We’ve got to figure out the root of that and fix it quickly. We’re 16 games in, so you kind of are who you are, but we’ve got to find a way to put it all together for four quarters.”

At this point, it’s hard to imagine a drastic turnaround, but the defense has played well enough that the offense doesn’t have to become a 30-points-per-game scoring machine. The offense wasn’t a powerhouse in 2010, either. The Packers got into those playoffs with a 10-3 win vs. Chicago and only scored 1.25 more points per game than the 2015 edition.

“Well, I’d certainly like to think that we could,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of spearheading a championship run. “That was a special deal. We had interceptions for touchdowns in the Super Bowl, the championship game and the divisional game. But I thought Micah Hyde’s interception was a rare play, the way he intercepted that ball. Those are the kind of plays you have to make when you get into the playoffs. As we all know in this league, now you get down to 12 teams, everybody’s 0-0. You’re going on the road and we’ll be playing in a hostile environment. You have to find a way to make two or three plays to get the momentum headed in your direction.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.






Packer Report Top Stories