The Green Bay Packers come out of their bye week with a crucial stretch of home games, one that could allow them to cement their status in the NFC playoff race.
It may be early to be talking playoffs, but the reality is, nothing helps a team get the NFL playoffs more than a fast start.
Currently, the Packers are riding a seven-year streak of getting to the postseason. And with them, surprisingly, they have recovered from numerous poor starts to make the playoffs like in 2009, 2012 and 2013. Even in 2010, the Packers won the Super Bowl after a 3-3 start.
Winning all three of these games likely isn’t necessary to make the playoffs. But, with the way the Minnesota Vikings are playing, the Packers may need to sweep all three to keep pace with Minnesota.
In the last two seasons, Green Bay has had to play its most critical game of the season on the road. In 2014, it was the NFC title game in Seattle. Last year, the Divisional playoff at Arizona.
It’s hard to say Packers would have won those games at Lambeau, especially considering the Vikings beat them in Week 17 there, but you’d like their chances.
To host those games, Green Bay need home-field advantage, which can come only come with an NFC North title. That might take 12 or even 13 wins. 5-1 would be a good start.
The schedule is a little weird, as the Packers have said. They weren’t thrilled about having a bye week after three games. But, with a number of injuries and some offensive issues, it ended up being the perfect time.
The Packers got a chance to evaluate themselves and did some extensive individual scouting.
“We’re taking today as an approach for self-improvement, and with that I wanted each player to have substance from the evaluations that the coaches did throughout the bye week and apply it in the meetings today and then work on it on the practice field,” Mike McCarthy said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “We’ll work a little bit of the (New York) Giants stuff on the field today and then get into it more during the week.”
While there may be a disadvantage of an early bye, if the Packers can beat the Giants and Cowboys at home, then Chicago the following Thursday night, they would sit at 5-1. They would also have nine days off before their next game. A mini bye week of sorts.
And teams that start 4-2 overwhelmingly make the playoffs. 5-1 teams have an even higher probability. So while 3-0 is the goal, 2-1 is absolutely necessary.
Percentage of teams to make the playoffs since 1990
• Started 4-2: 62.3%
• Started 3-3: 38.3%
• Started 2-4: 8.6%
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 11, 2014
Generally, the Packers have been very good at home, especially under Aaron Rodgers. They were 9-0 in 2014. But last season, their play slipped and they fell to 5-3.
That means there is no guarantee of anything. However, this much is clear — if the Packers want to put themselves in a strong position for the playoffs, than winning at least two of the next three games is required.
To have a chance at catching the Vikings, it’s looking like they will need to win all three.