clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Packers are now playing with house money

New, comments

The 2016 Green Bay Packers have had a successful season, regardless of the final outcome

NFL: NFC Wild Card-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Admit it, you didn't think we'd be having this discussion right now.

Heck, this writer still in shock he is even writing this article.

Yet here we are. From 4-6 to 10-6 plus an NFC North division championship and a playoff win later, the Green Bay Packers are two wins away from reaching Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas. It's been a wild seven weeks for the Packers and their fans and it continues for another week.

While many had some concerns about Green Bay's Wild Card game (and those concerns were warranted for the game's first 20 minutes), the Packers and Aaron Rodgers quickly dispatched the ghosts of playoffs past and have moved onto this week's divisional game in Dallas against the Dallas Cowboys, the number one seed in the NFC.

The Giants provided Green Bay a test. The Cowboys represent a greater challenge.

No team has been hotter over the past seven weeks than the Packers, but no team has been hotter over the entire season than Dallas. Sure, they struggled a bit late, but was any team in the league more impressive over the course of the entire season than the Cowboys? Outside of New England, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who says yes.

Green Bay, meanwhile, continues a hot streak no one saw coming, except one Aaron Charles Rodgers. While he's played out of his mind, the Packers are playing with a secondary that is being held together with popsicle sticks and duct tape. They've done decent work during the seven game winning streak, but they have yet to face an offense quite as potent as the Cowboys.

The Packers had to make one outstanding run to even get to this point, let alone make the Super Bowl. In fact, they're playing with house money at this point.

Look at all the team has accomplished this season. They went from 4-6 and dead to 10-6 and living. They retook the NFC North crown. They won a playoff game. Rodgers looks like Rodgers again despite having no consistent running attack for most of the year thanks to injuries.

Throw in the aforementioned decimated secondary and Green Bay has had a fantastic season. Considering where they were seven weeks ago, 2016 will be a season fondly looked upon regardless of outcome against Dallas on Sunday.

Of course, don't forget for a minute that a Super Bowl appearance and victory would be incredibly epic. It would be one of the greatest stories in a franchise chock full of great stories. A ten-game winning streak to seal Green Bay's fifth Lombardi Trophy would be a script even Hollywood would have a hard time writing.

That being said, everyone needs to remember it is very difficult to win a Super Bowl. Everything needs to go right, plus usually getting some lucky breaks along the way. With the Packers losing Jordy Nelson to a rib injury and calling up converted wide receivers to play cornerback, it remains to be seen how Green Bay can absorb these latest blows.

Losing Nelson stinks, but how much more can the secondary take? Ladarius Gunter did well against Odell Beckham on Sunday, but he also was bailed out with a few drops. Beckham did finish tied for eighth in league in drops with six, however. Gunter faces a much more daunting challenge with Dez Bryant Sunday.

Many fans will point to 2010 as justification for not letting injuries derail a team's season. While that run was remarkable, it was also quite different. Injuries were frequent, but they were also more spread out. In 2016, Green Bay's entire secondary (except Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) has missed games. In 2010, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson were both healthy for all 16 games and the playoffs (until Woodson broke his collarbone in Super Bowl XLV). It's very, very difficult for a team to stay competitive playing their fourth and fifth cornerbacks, but the 2016 Packers have done it.

Every Packers fan will be and should be cheering full throat for a victory on Sunday. Should Green Bay not win the day, however, remember the wise words of Dr. Suess: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

The Packers gave their fans a lot to smile about in 2016. Hopefully they give them even more on Sunday with a victory over the Cowboys.