There was no point in talking about the playoffs three weeks ago, and coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to talk about them now.
After losing at Washington, the Green Bay Packers were 4-6 and in 14th place in the 16-team NFC. After dispatching Philadelphia and Houston and then dismantling the powerful Seahawks on Sunday, the Packers are 7-6. While they’re still outside-looking-in at the postseason picture, the Packers are very much in the mix.
“It’s the same approach you have every day. It's control the controlables,” McCarthy said on Monday. “We’re all about play style and production. We can’t control what’s going on around us in the league or in the division. We have to play to our play style and play to our strengths and improve. We’ve done that the last couple weeks. As long as we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
The Packers did just about everything right in crushing Seattle. Defensively, after giving up 42 points at Washington, the Packers have given up a total of 36 the last three weeks. Offensively, Aaron Rodgers and Co. failed to take advantage of only one of Seattle’s five interceptions.
About the only thing that didn’t go right was the surrounding games on the Week 14 schedule. In the NFC North, Detroit (9-4) trailed 17-13 midway the fourth quarter before beating Chicago and Minnesota (7-6) trailed 16-12 entering the fourth quarter before beating Jacksonville. In the Wild Card chase, Tampa Bay (8-5), which holds the sixth and final spot, edged New Orleans. Washington (7-5-1), which is in seventh place, rallied past Philadelphia. Minnesota is in eighth and Green Bay is in ninth.
Rodgers after the game said he believed the Packers’ playoff chances were “strong to quite strong.” The most logical path would be with Detroit losing one of its next two games – at the Giants (9-4) and Cowboys (11-2) – and the Packers beating the Bears (3-10) and Vikings (7-6). That would set up a winner-takes-all game at Detroit on Jan. 1.
McCarthy doesn’t want to think about any of that. The Bears might have one of the worst records in the NFL, but they’ve been competitive. They’re 1-3 in their last four games, with the losses coming to the Giants (22-16), Titans (27-21) and Lions (20-17) by a combined 15 points.
“I think it’s important to simplify things in your life and, especially when you’re the leader for your football team, make it real simple,” McCarthy said. “We’ve talked about this in here time and time again. If you get 10 wins, then let’s talk about the playoffs. Until then, it’s all white noise. We obviously know where we are. We’re 7-6. Until we get to 10 wins, let’s not even talk about it. With that, we’re going to focus on our play style and improve. And we’re going to need it. The Bears are playing very well. We need to stay focused on the Bears, and we will, which is easy. It’s the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears playing this week. It’s probably single-digit temperatures down there and probably windy. That’s really where our mind-set is.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.