The Green Bay Packers haven't look like one kind of team during the entire 2016 season.
At times, they've appeared like their old selves, tearing apart defenses in every fashion imaginable and making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. That Green Bay showed up for parts of the games against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears back in October, notching wins in both tilts. However, even in those games the Packers ended up taking their foot of the gas too early.
Yet for most of the year, the other version of the Packers has taken the field, the one that comes out flat to start games and fails to rally in the second half. Granted, injuries on both sides of the ball complicated matters, but that team lost every game in the month of November leading up to Week 12.
But finally on Monday night, the Packers put together a complete, dominating effort. Not only that, but they did so against solid competition in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The offense opened the game with one of their most impressive drives of the season, a 10-play, 75-yard effort that concluded with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams hooking up for their first of two touchdowns. The second, an incredible bucket throw Rodgers fit into the smallest of windows, finished off their next possession, putting the team up 14-7 and establishing a lead they would hold for the remainder of the evening.
Diving deeper into the numbers, Green Bay managed to reach unheard of levels of third-down efficiency, let alone one with a four-game losing streak. The offense converted 10 of its 14 third-down attempts during the game, the best single-game mark by anyone this season. Much of the credit goes to Rodgers, who displayed perfect ball placement on nearly all his throws. However, Mike McCarthy also deserves recognition for his thorough game plan and creative play calling, perhaps his best showing in well over a year.
The Packers remain two games out of the NFC North lead with a difficult remaining schedule, and it seems naive to buy into the team after one great performance. However, if Green Bay has any hope of clawing their way back into the playoff conversation, this game had to unfold this way.
The O-line played above any reasonable expectation
Part of what made the Packers' impressive offensive effort possible was the fine protection up front. Already without two starters along the offensive line as well as second-round rookie Jason Spriggs shifting from left tackle to right guard, the odds appeared stacked against Green Bay controlling the trenches. The dominating play of the Eagles' defensive front -- one of the best units in the league -- only exacerbated the concerns heading into Monday.
And yet, the Packers gave up no sacks to Philadelphia and kept Rodgers comfortable in the pocket for all but a handful of snaps. Left tackle David Bakhtiari continues to grow as the team's blindside protector, bookending with Bryan Bulaga to keep the edges clean. Spriggs did lose some battles to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, but he generally stayed in front of his man and received help when needed from center Corey Linsley. Lane Taylor did draw a penalty, but outside of that gave a solid performance.
With T.J. Lang sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Packers ability to compensate could pay huge dividends over the next few weeks when they host the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, owners of two of the most challenging defenses in football.