How often is “good” not good enough?
While that may sound like a clue The Riddler left Batman, this very well could be the conundrum the Green Bay Packers find themselves in at the end of the 2014 season.
The Packers currently sit at 6-3, one game behind the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North. The “if the season ended now” scenarios are often useless since the season DOESN’T end now, but the fact of the matter is as of right now Green Bay finds themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to making the postseason.
Looking at the remaining schedule, the Packers very well could finish the season 11-5. The losses penciled in are this week against the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots in two weeks. If the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and/or Eagles continue their pace, there is a decent chance the Packers could finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs.
The last time that happened was in 2008 when the Patriots, without Tom Brady, finished 11-5 but missed out on the postseason after losing a tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins for the AFC East as well as the Baltimore Ravens for a wild card spot.
An 11-5 Packers season without a playoff appearance would be one of the most bizarre happenings in the team’s rich history. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a huge season that has him at the front of the line for MVP consideration yet he might not get a chance at a Super Bowl. The defense is much improved over last season but they might not get to show it in the playoffs.
The record would be a marked improvement over 8-7-1 from 2013 but that was without a healthy Rodgers for half the season. Yet it would likely still feel like a massive disappointment for Packers fans if the team missed the playoffs with a record that 90% of the time gets a team into postseason, and often a division title as well.
That is why the Eagles game this week is especially important. With no team truly emerging as the team to beat in the NFC, the Packers need to begin looking at locking up as many tiebreakers as possible. Green Bay hasn’t beaten a playoff team since the Vikings in 2012 in back-to-back weeks and this week’s game gives them a prime opportunity to stake their claim in the conference as well as win a head-to-head tiebreaker against a team they will be battling the rest of the year for playoff position.
There is a lot of football left and anything can happen. Some teams could get hot and some teams could fall off a cliff. The NFL is fickle in nature when it comes to these things.
The Packers have been hot lately, save for their stumble in New Orleans. Rodgers in particular is on a torrid pace. If Green Bay can keep that up and Detroit stumbles in just one game(they have the toughest remaining schedule among the teams in playoff contention), then there is no reason Green Bay can’t win the division.
The opposite is also true. The Packers can’t afford to falter much. They really haven’t had a head scratching loss yet but there are plenty of trap games remaining (Tamp Bay, Buffalo, Atlanta) that could trip them up.
Still fact remains 11-5 might not be good enough this year.
Can the Packers do it?
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke