Three weeks ago it looked like the Packers playoff hopes were all but gone. The Packers got crushed on Thanksgiving day by the Lions, and tied the week before at home versus the Vikings. Prior to that they lost the three games since Aaron Rodgers was injured and their record now stood at 5-6-1. The Lions and Bears were both in better positions than them, and Detroit was going to hold the divisional tie breaker by having a better division record. It seemed like unless Aaron Rodgers came back this team wouldn’t have a shot at the postseason. But after two late game comebacks versus the Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers are still in the playoff race even with Matt Flynn still at quarterback.
If Green Bay wants their fans to have a shot at home playoff tickets they will need to win both of these final games against the Steelers this week and the Bears in week 17. This week the Packers will still be without Aaron Rodgers, but as we’ve seen Matt Flynn shouldn’t be taken for granted. Pittsburgh’s a good solid team, but they have plenty of flaws as well. They’ve not been consistent this year, and if the Packers can limit their mistakes they could have a shot at upsetting them. The game is at home so the Packers will have the advantage there and now that they have something to play for it’s likely they will bring their A game. The Packers could also make the playoffs even if they lose this week. They would just need the Bears to lose this week (and of course next week against GB) and the Lions to lose one of their games.
The real tough test will be the following week at Chicago. The Bears also control their own destiny for the post season, so if they win this week then all they will need to do is to beat the Packers at home to win the division. The Bears can also win the NFC North if they lose this week, beat the Packers and the Lions lose one of their two remaining games. So Chicago no matter what should have something to play for in that final game. The Bears already have their QB Jay Cutler, back from injury and they will clearly have the crowd behind them. For the Packers to have a good chance they will probably need Aaron Rodgers to come back for that week. They could maybe get by with Matt Flynn this week, but it’s hard to see Flynn going into Chicago and succeeding.
It won’t be an easy road for the Packers, but given the injuries they’ve faced this year, the fact that they are still playing meaningful football and have a shot at the post season is impressive.