NFC North Reporter
Heading into Monday night, FiveThirtyEight had the Green Bay Packers’ playoff chances at 6%. The Packers’ odds would have plummeted to 0.6% had they lost to the lowly Los Angeles Rams at frigid Lambeau Field. After winning 24-12, the probability shot up to … 8%.
So, we’re telling you there’s a chance.
“A lot still to play for,” Aaron Rodgers said after the win. “We’re a game and a half out of the playoffs. There will be a lot of excitement in the locker room. A lot of good energy this week, short week, but tough opponent in Miami who has a lot to play for, as well.”
The 39-year-old quarterback has said he wants to continue playing out this season, through injury if necessary, as long as Green Bay is mathematically alive for the playoffs. He reiterated that point even at the tail end of a skid in which the Packers lost seven of eight games midway through the season. They’ve now won back-to-back games for the first time since the opening week of October.
“It’s fun to win games you’re supposed to win in December,” Rodgers said.
With the Rams out of the way, it doesn’t get easier for Green Bay. All three of its remaining opponents (Miami, Minnesota and Detroit) are currently .500 or better. And even if the Packers win all three games, they don’t control their own destiny. Their chances would only be at 64%. They’d still need a lot of help.
The help Green Bay needs isn’t unrealistic, however. There are myriad scenarios, even highly improbable ones that involve Green Bay losing again. The most realistic one (with the Packers winning out, of course) is this:
- The Commanders lose any two of their three remaining games (at San Francisco, vs. Cleveland and Dallas). Those two circumstances alone raise the Packers’ chances to about 90%.
- The Lions lose one of their next two games (at Carolina, vs. Chicago).
- The Panthers lose one of their final three games (at Kansas City, vs. Jets, Rams).
This would clinch a playoff berth for the Packers.
“Before the Bears week, we knew we had a bye afterwards and those of us who sometimes peek ahead knew that we had to win five and then have a lot of things go our way,” Rodgers said. “We’ve won two, and just about everything we needed to have happen has gone our way. Just about, right?
“So … things are looking up.”
While encouraging, that’s still very much not a guarantee à la Rodgers’ “R-E-L-A-X” moment, especially with how the Packers are playing. Their defense seemed to take a step forward Monday night, registering five sacks on Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield, while making his life difficult overall in the bone-chilling 17-degree weather. Mayfield finished 12-of-21 for just 111 yards and a touchdown and interception. His passer rating was 67.8, and Los Angeles converted just four of 11 third downs.
Green Bay held the Rams to 72 yards on the ground and its leading receiver — running back Cam Akers — to three receptions for 35 yards.
The problem is, that type of excellence is going to have to be the norm for the Packers moving forward — and they don’t get to face the Rams’ offensive line again. It was an encouraging performance, but like Rodgers said afterward, they were supposed to win this one. It was expected.
Offensively, the Packers remained inconsistent but seemed to get into a groove by the end of the night. Rookie Romeo Doubs, who returned from a four-game absence because of injury, caught all five of his targets yet amassed just 55 yards. That led the Packers. Fellow rookie Christian Watson hauled in four of six targets for 46 yards and had only one target in the first half. He’d caught seven touchdowns in the previous four games.
The Rams assigned Jalen Ramsey to Watson for much of the night, but the Packers surely wanted to get him the football more. Rodgers divulged after the game that Watson did a few things he wasn’t supposed to, resulting in a couple of those incompletions and perhaps lack of targets.
What Green Bay must figure out is how to make all of its offensive pieces work in tangent, rather than the piecemeal operation we’ve seen thus far. The Packers still don’t have an identity on offense. With the way Watson has come on and Doubs has contributed alongside veterans Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, the Packers have enough talent. But if they have any real hope of reaching the postseason, much less making a deep run, they’re going to need consistency out of those guys.
“Yes, I think so,” Rodgers said, when asked if those four receivers are enough to keep this offense humming in January. “I really do. Because they just have such different skill sets. Christian obviously has incredible speed. Romeo is a real quick-twitch guy. Cobby has the savvy to work in the slot and Allen [Lazard] does everything well. He’s a good route runner, catching the ball in his hands, he’s a great blocker. So yeah, I think that’s a really good set of guys.”
Even Packers superfan Lil Wayne chimed in Monday and is behind this year’s team again, despite not being completely sold on the roster.
“I’m always believing. I am going to always believe, you ain’t gotta worry about that,” Wayne said on the Manningcast. “I definitely believe and I think we’re going to get some help, too. I think we’re going to get some help down the line.”
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Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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