For some reason, in the Mike McCarthy era, the Green Bay Packers have often played their best when their backs are against a wall. And after losing four of five games, it’s clear that the Packers are in a desperate situation and in desperate need of a win.
So what should we expect from the Packers on Thursday night in Detroit? I’d expect them to come out swinging.
That’s exactly what the Packers did two weeks ago against Minnesota and they won the game handily over a team that is now 8-3 and sitting atop the NFC North. Green Bay is a game back in that race — but the Packers aren’t dead — not by a long shot.
It’s hard to win in the National Football League. A lot of things — a lot of little things — have to go right and recently those things haven’t happened for Green Bay. It’s best player has been average. It’s impact players have made less of an impact.
But the ship can be righted. All it will take is a win or two. And Thursday in Detroit would be a good place to start.
Yet that is not going to be as easy as once thought to be. A few weeks ago, the Lions looked like a push over. That was before Detroit’s win in Green Bay and it’s three-game winning streak. Now the Lions look formidable and with a win, they could potentially be within one game of the final NFC playoff spot.
So winning in Detroit won’t be easy for the Packers. In fact, some might even consider them underdogs. Who can blame them? The Packers recent record — 1-4 — and their poor play gives no indication of future success. Aaron Rodgers has been a shell of himself and the offense has scored 20 points just twice in the past five games.
The outlook looks bleak and a loss to Detroit would put Green Bay’s playoff hopes in even more jeopardy. The Packers are fortunate to host Dallas next week, but after that, are back-to-back road trips to Arizona and Oakland before a season-finale at home against Minnesota.
The schedule isn’t easy and that means that the next two weeks represent must win games. It also means that the Packers need to find a way to play good football and historically under McCarthy, they have done that when times turn toughest.
In each of the past three seasons the Packers have recovered from 1-2 starts to make the playoffs. In 2010, the Packers overcame a 2-3 start to win the Super Bowl. At one point that year the team was 8-6 and needed to win its last two games to make the playoffs. It did and the rest was history.
I am not comparing this year’s team to that one. The 2010 team was loaded. But talent wise the 2015 Packers are pretty good too. Even without Jordy Nelson, there is more than enough offensive talent to succeed. And with Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, B.J. Raji, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields and Damarious Randall, there is more than enough to succeed on defense too.
There has never been a question about the ability of Green Bay’s players, just questions about their execution and more accurately — lack of it — in recent weeks. The Packers downfall from 6-0 to 1-4 has been nothing short of shocking. They got themselves into this mess and now, only they can play their way out of it.
McCarthy’s team have responded well in these situations in the past — the question is how will the Packers respond this time?
How they do will define the rest of the season.