Packers on wrong side of playoff equation

3 wins, 4 losses.<P> 2 losses at Lambeau.<p> 4 games behind the Vikings in the loss column.<p> 9 games left in the regular season.<P> These numbers just don't add up for the Green Bay Packers if they have playoff plans. The math doesn't look any easier after the team's bye week, when the schedule turns treacherous.<p>

Is it too drastic to write this season off before it's even half over?

Brett Favre's Packers have found themselves in this position only three times in his 12 seasons as the team's field general. Each time – 1992, 1994 and 2000, the team finished 9-7. Only the 1994 campaign resulted in a post-season berth. The other two years were inaugural seasons for Mike Holmgren and Mike Sherman, respectively. And while those years got off to a rocky start, they all finished with no more than two losses at Lambeau Field.

From the Packers' current position, it may be difficult to imagine winning out at Lambeau, much less the rest of the way.

"Three-and-four is obviously not Packer football where we'd like to be, but as I say every time, it's the hand we've been dealt," Favre said when he met reporters after Sunday's loss. "How we deal with it -- I don't know if at the end of this season whether we make the playoffs or whether we finish with a winning record. I don't know. I don't really care. And I said that this week, the bottom line is how we handle this, how we come out from here on and how we finish."

The team won't have to wait long to test its mettle. After next week's open date, the Packers resume at Minnesota in an ESPN Sunday Night game Nov. 2 in the dreaded Metrodome. Minnesota remained unbeaten with a convincing win over Denver this week, and hosts the NY Giants in Week 8. When the Packers visit, the Vikings will be at the tail end of a three-game home stand which followed their bye week.

Things don't get any easier after the halfway point. Even games that would be viewed as a softer challenge take on new dimensions thanks to the quirks of the schedule. Green Bay hosts Philadelphia on Monday night in Week 10, then travels to play defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. Following a Lambeau Field date with suddenly surging San Francisco, a game against a relatively weak Detroit team whom the Packers trounced back in Week 2 suddenly takes on a twist. Green Bay will play the Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers are 5-10–1 vs. the Lions on Thanksgiving, but are riding a two game winning streak in the holiday series with the Lions thanks to wins in 2001 and 1986.

A rematch with the Bears and a West Coast swing round out the schedule before the Packers host Denver in the finale Dec. 28 with a 3:15 start.

Of the nine games remaining on the slate, only two are traditional Sunday noon games.

According to Sherman, the games could be played on Sundays at high noon or Tuesdays at 5 a.m. – it won't make any difference if the teams keeps self-destructing.

"I don't care who you play … you turn the ball over four times it's going to be difficult to win," Sherman said.


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