Despite not Meeting Fan Expectations, These 2012 Packers are still damn good

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

The current Green Bay Packers are not ready for a Super Bowl run. In fact, the team that was just annihilated by the New York Giants last Sunday night would likely struggle to make the playoffs.

Decimated by injuries, the Packers have been forced to plug inexperienced young players into key roles and shuffle veterans into new positions. And yet, the show must go on.

Currently sitting at 7-4, every single one of the Packers’ preseason goals remains attainable. So why does it seem like the 2012 season has been a disappointment? Because the last two seasons, in their own way, have altered fans’ expectations.

Coming into 2012, the Packers’ aspirations were as lofty as any team in the NFL.

After all, the team went 15-1 in the regular season following their Super Bowl XLV victory. The reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers was on their side, along with an explosive set of wide receivers and one of the best coaching staffs in football.

So in 2012, the division was theirs to lose, a playoff berth was expected, and another trip to the Super Bowl was on the horizon.

But in week one, the Packers ran into a buzz saw from San Francisco. Playing at Lambeau Field in front of a revved-up fan base, the seemingly invincible Packers were beaten in every facet of the game. Some fans panicked, and their expectations changed.

Then, after a week two victory over the Chicago Bears, the Packers struggled mightily in Seattle against on Monday Night Football. The controversial ending is well-documented, but in reality, the offensive line allowed eight sacks and Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Halloween of 2010.

Where was the explosive offense of 2011? The Packers were 1-2 through three games, and fans started reaching for the panic button.

The Packers barely beat the New Orleans Saints in week four, before traveling to Indianapolis. For the first time this season, the Colts took to the field without head coach Chuck Pagano, who had been diagnosed with leukemia. Green Bay rushed out to a 21-3 halftime lead, but the Colts didn’t panic.

Behind Reggie Wayne’s 13 catches and 212 yards, Indianapolis rallied to win the game. It was a great story for Colts fans, but a gut-wrenching loss for the Packers.

Now at 2-3 with the undefeated Houston Texans on deck, the Packers were thought to be doomed. Until the quarterback threw six touchdowns in a 42-24 win on national television.

Afte blowing out the Texans, the Packers won their following four games against St. Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona and Detroit.

Greg Jennings had been out since week four, Charles Woodson broke his collarbone against the Rams, Clay Matthews tweaked his hamstring against the Jaguars, but the team was winning, so fans were happy. After all, the Packers overcame countless injuries in 2010 and went on to win Super Bowl XLV. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, after squeaking by three consecutive inferior opponents, the Packers were absolutely demolished 38-10 by the New York Giants last Sunday night. The ongoing list of injuries had finally taken its toll in front of a national audience.

There’s no way around it–the offensive line was dominated, the passing game struggled, and the defense couldn’t stop anything the Giants were trying to do. There weren’t many–if any–positives to take away from the blowout loss.

So here they sit. The Packers are 7-4, trailing the Bears by one game in the NFC North with five games to play. And in week 15 at Soldier Field, the Packers will have a chance to close that one-game gap atop the division.

Jennings is expected to make his return to action this week against the Vikings, while both Matthews and Woodson appear close to returning within the next couple weeks.

Before the season, the Packers had their sights on winning the division. And guess what? They still can.

Before traveling to Chicago for what looks like it will be the “NFC North Championship,” the Packers will host the Vikings and Lions at Lambeau Field. Green Bay’s last two games include a home game against the Tennessee Titans and a road trip against the Minnesota Vikings in week 17.

Regardless of how the first-place Bears finish the season, the Packers will win the NFC North if they win their last five games. Both teams control their own destiny.

This team certainly has its fair share of problems. The offensive line is not playing at a Super Bowl-caliber level, and the defense continues to rely too heavily on Matthews. But nonetheless, the Packers are one of a handful of NFC teams that could make a late-season run to the Super Bowl.

Although it may not have looked like it at the time, not one of the Packers’ losses came against a poor team.

All four of the Packers’ losses were courtesy of teams that appear headed for the postseason. San Francisco is 8-2-1 and in line for a first-round bye, Seattle is in control of the No. 6 seed in the NFC, Indianapolis is 7-4 and currently hold the AFC’s fifth seed, and the New York Giants appear poised for another late-season run.

Sure, the Packers rightfully deserved a win in Seattle, and they had no business blowing a 21-3 halftime lead at Indianapolis, but they did. They should be 9-2, but they aren’t.

They’re 7-4. They’re a really good football team. And they’re about to be even better.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • Turophile

    If you remove the current O line from the equation I’d agree.

    Sadly there are no guys in the wings to help the line this year, unless you think van Roten or Barclay are the answer. We just might improve with Barclay starting at RT, Lang back at LG and EDS replacing Saturday at center, but then again we could be worse.

    Another way we could help the line is to have one of those two young linemen designated ‘TE’ and give double team help to Lang at RT. At least that should allow him to roll right, out of the pocket, to buy time when playing teams with a strong pass rush.

    I am very interested in seeing if the returning players give the team a lift, them being fresher than those who have played all season.

  • cow42

    9-6 in their last 15 games.
    they are an average team.

    the window is closing.

    • Tarynfor12

      I wouldn’t say the ‘window’ for the team is closing but the ‘door’ for this season is in jeopardy of being slammed shut.

    • FireMMNow

      9-6 means a team is generally on pace to make the playoffs. if that is average to you then okay, but packer fans have been spoiled by nearly 25 years of winning football.

    • Barutan Seijin

      I’m not at all that disappointed in the team because i didn’t think they would be that great this year. I thought McGinn had it about right when he predicted 10-6.

      This feels like a Shermie years team. They can make the playoffs if things play out right, but you just know they won’t go far.

  • Tarynfor12

    This article made me think how best to describe the Packers at this juncture…’smouldering’.

  • steve cheez

    Yes, our four losses are against playoff teams. But aren’t playoff teams who we would play in the playoffs?
    Have we beaten any likely playoff teams other than the Bears?

    • Marques Eversoll

      I’d say a 42-24 win over the (now) 10-1 Houston Texans would fit the criteria.

      • steve cheez

        That’s why I phrased it in the for of a question! Geez, I used to be a lot smarter…

  • wim

    the article is just too much wishful thinking. this team except for the texan game, and how good cutler made us look in the bear game, has played very much like the team that made us all nervous in preseason. just out of sync. still, with AR, anything can happen.

    • Marques Eversoll

      What part is too much wishful thinking?

      Do you think the Packers aren’t capable of winning two games against the Vikings, and one against the Bears, Lions and Texans? Because I certainly do, and I think they will.

      A 12-4 season with a home playoff game is a damn good season.

      • cow42

        they will not sweep the division.
        that’s ridiculous.

  • FireMMNow

    if you tell any team in the NFL that they will lose their starting RB, starting safety/nickel corner, two starting MLBs, #1 WR for most of the season, best defensive player for 2-3 weeks, starting right tackle, starting CB for half the season, starting OLB etc and then told them they would be 7-4 and on place to make the playoffs and have a good shot at winning the division they would be ecstatic. this team is going to look sloppy at times because of the new pieces. getting woodson, cm3 and jennings back will be a major upgrade. hopefully shields will be available for depth in the playoffs.

    and why wasnt hayward on the field more. i would rather take tramon off the field than hayward right now. was he hurt?

    the lingering issue is the OL. they have to make a move to get that fixed. internally or externally, new personnel is needed at RT so they can get EDS off of the field.

    • Marques Eversoll

      Regarding your first point, I totally agree.

      The Packers have been shorthanded damn near all season, yet they’re 7-4 with a legitimate chance at winning the division. What more can you ask for?

      This team will get stronger in December, as they gear towards a playoff run.

  • James david Marsh

    Are you in favor of the offense lines exacuition? Yes. Just a little humor. GB has five games left to make that playoff push against beatable teams. None can be taken lightly, but Chicago is a must statement game. ATL and SF are in and that leaves at least two spots open for the NFC north. Get healthy and get it going.