The Tables Have Turned For The Packers
What a difference a month’s time can make.
Remember what the world of the Green Bay Packers looked like back on Sept. 22? It sure was grim.
The Packers had started off slowly for the second consecutive year. Coming off a 34-30 heart-breaking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay stood at 1-2 and already two games behind the Chicago Bears and one behind the Detroit Lions for the NFC North lead.
To make matters worse, multiple injuries to key players began sprouting up, joining the list of others already spending their Sundays on the sideline. Heading into the bye week, Jermichael Finley (concussion), Clay Matthews (hamstring), Morgan Burnett (hamstring), Casey Hayward (hamstring), Eddy Lacy (concussion) and James Starks (knee) all were battling injuries that either held already held them out of a game or would in the future.
We’d seen the Packers overcome devastating injury situations before, especially in 2010, but that doesn’t mean it happens every year. With all these injuries and a 1-2 record, the chances of playing into January or February seemed to be taking a significant hit early.
But fast forward to present day, and the outlook couldn’t be more different. A bye week, three straight wins and a combined 3-5 record by the Bears and Lions later, the Packers sit at 4-2 and a half game ahead of Chicago and Detroit in the division standings. If the playoffs began today, Green Bay would be the number three seed in the NFC.
The Packers put together this three-game winning streak with contributions from a lot of backups. Jamari Lattimore and Davon House were spectacular against Baltimore and Cleveland. Jarrett Boykin surpassed his career totals in catches, yards and touchdowns this past Sunday. Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer have set the edge to keep the run defense in tip-top shape. And with Burnett back and looking as good as ever, the quality of players isn’t so much the concern anymore; rather, it’s the number of available players. That shouldn’t be a problem either, though, with several on the cusp of returning.
To top it all off, the upcoming schedule should make the Packers as happy as anything. Over the next five games, the toughest opponent will be the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football on Nov. 4. But even that game should be a relatively easy win. Reports from Monday morning indicated both Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs will be sidelined for multiple weeks with injuries, meaning they’ll miss the trip to Green Bay.
Yes, the outlook for the Green Bay Packers’ 2013 season has taken a complete 180 from only four weeks prior. It’s why the term "must-win" shouldn’t be used until late in the season, when a loss would actually knock a team out of the playoff picture. Some were saying the Packers were in such a situation three weeks ago against Detroit, but that is now looking foolish.
Fortunes change quickly all the time in the NFL. The Packers could all of a sudden find themselves back in desperation mode with a few poor performances. But for now, they’re feeling great.