Win-Loss record takes a backseat

Throw playoff picture out the window, focus on how team improves

Six games into this NFL season and this we know about the Green Bay Packers: They have as much chance of making the playoffs this season as the survivors on the hit TV show "Lost" do of being rescued any time soon.

At 1-5, with games upcoming against playoff teams in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, the Packers are staring 1-8 square in the face. Even though the NFC North is being led by two 3-3 teams – Chicago and Detroit – it's over.

First of all, the winner of the Bears-Lions game Sunday goes to 4-3. If the winner is the Bears, watch out because Chicago could run away with the division because of its upcoming schedule.

If this happens, tip your hat to Packer Report editor Todd Korth for picking the Bears to win the division prior to this season.

After this week, the Bears play at New Orleans/San Antonio/Baton Rouge, host San Francisco and host Carolina. Two of those games are certainly winnable for the Bears, which would move them to 6-4.

If the Lions win, they follow with an away game at Minnesota, Arizona at home, and at Dallas, which is a tougher three-game road than the Bears. Still, if the Lions win one game, they are 5-5.

Right now, everything is stacked against the Packers and it goes beyond this.

See who their four wide receivers are this week?

Donald Driver. Fine with me.

Antonio Chatman at No. 2. Uhhh, what?

Andrae Thurman. Excuse me?

Taco Wallace? What is that, a new item on the Taco Bell menu? I'll have two, please.

Here's the top two running backs:

Tony Fisher. He's a good third-down back.

Walter Williams. He's a good training-camp back.

Quarterback Brett Favre is playing with an offense more suitable to the third quarter of a preseason game, but this is what Favre is left with. Even the never-say-die Favre is wondering if this season is a lost cause.

"I feel like when I'm on the field I will always have a chance to help this team win and will be the difference," Favre said. "That's what's been disappointing this year more so than any other year, because we've lost four games by nine points and I would think that I could be the one who could make the difference."

Favre thinks he's lost his magic, but anyone who has stomached any of the Packers games this season knows he's the only thing good going right now. Favre leads the NFL with 14 TD tosses, and this is coming without standout wide receiver Javon Walker, who was lost for the season in Week 1, in addition to other injuries.

Since Favre has been in Green Bay – 1992 for those who forgot – every season it has come down to the won-loss record.

Do the Packers have enough wins to make the playoffs?

Can the Packers win the division?

Can the Packers get home-field advantage for the playoffs?

Can the Packers win the Super Bowl?

Only three times in Favre's tenure have the Packers missed the post-season. First, 1992 when Favre took over in the fourth game of the season. The second time was when Ray Rhodes guided the Packers to an underachieving 8-8 mark in 1999.

The following year, 2000, in Mike Sherman's first year the Packers also missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

Still, even in these years the playoff chance came down to the wire.

There's no wire to worry about this season, unless it's the one some fans want to hang Sherman with.

Because of the state of the Packers, we need to take a different look at the rest of 2005. Don't worry about the playoff picture. Instead, watch how this team plays with a roster which won't look the same next season, and remember that when the Bengals are pounding the Packers on Sunday.

Don't take the loss hard when you have a guy named Taco on your team.

The Packers have been forced by numerous injuries to field a team unable to make the playoffs, even if Vince Lombardi was back on his feet. This isn't to excuse Sherman, as he is responsible for many of these players on the roster he acquired as the GM before last off-season.

So what should fans do? Watch, cheer, but remember the won-loss record isn't the focal point anymore. Keeping Favre upright and seeing some improvement is about we can ask, until 2006.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

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