Playoffs? Don't count on it

A lot can happen between now and the start of the National Football League's regular season in early September. While many Packers fans feel that Green Bay can make the NFC playoffs this season,'s Dylan Tomlinson is not so sure that that will be the case.

It's easy to be optimistic in July.

There are less than four weeks until training camp starts, so this is the perfect time for optimism in Northeast Wisconsin. The pathetic 2005 season remains a distant memory and all Packers fans can seem to think about are those final four games of the 2006 season when the Packers stunned everyone to win out and just barely miss the playoffs.

It's a pretty good memory, but it's easy to be optimistic in July.

After all, it will be at least late September, or early October before anyone truly knows how good or bad this Packers team will be. Most of the early part of the season will center on Brett Favre's pursuit of Dan Marino's touchdown record. Even if the Packers lose early, the focus will be on Favre as he prepares to break one of the NFL's most hallowed records. It will be a pleasant distraction that will take away some of the attention to the Packers' early success or struggles.

A year ago, an 8-8 season would have seemed like a pipe dream. Only the most optimistic of Packers fans would have expected a .500 season. Those who predicted the playoffs were downright delusional. Most of the so-called experts, of which I suppose I am, thought the Packers would be lucky to win five or six games.

What did we know? It's easy to be an expert in July when the team is two months from playing its first game.

But this July it's a little tougher to be optimistic. The Packers have done virtually nothing to improve themselves on offense. With Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency at running back and Greg Jennings and James Jones competing to play alongside Donald Driver at wide receiver, it's no wonder Favre got so angry at Packers general manager Ted Thompson this off-season.

Even Favre, sometimes, has trouble being optimistic.

The Packers don't appear to be improved from a year ago. There are more questions at running back than in almost a decade and it was already made clear last season that Favre can't put the offense on his back anymore.

The expectations of Favre have gotten more and more unrealistic as he continues to age. Gone are the days when he could throw 25 to 30 touchdowns in a season. Heck, last year he couldn't even get to 20. What do people expect? The guy is 37, he's not going to play the way he did when he was 27.

So much that is written about the Packers is about how young they are. Players like Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Scott Wells, Greg Jennings, A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett are all young and have yet to reach their primes. But Favre isn't the only old man (by NFL standards) on that roster. Driver and Al Harris are 32. Chad Clifton is 31. Mark Tauscher and Charles Woodson are 30. As great as all of the aforementioned players still are, it's not a reach to think all of them are past their prime.

So where does that leave us? Another six-win prediction? It's difficult to say. It's easy to be optimistic in July, but it's very difficult to be optimistic this July.

Dylan Tomlinson

Dylan Tomlinson is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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