Aaron Rodgers is gone, possibly for the rest of the season. With Brett Hundley under center and ten games remaining, how many more wins will the Green Bay Packers get? We asked the Acme Packing Company writers for their takes.
Paul Noonan - Four
I suspect Hundley will play mostly fine, but the injury bug has been a problem, and is still a problem. If he’s going to win games for them, the defense, and the secondary in particular have to play much better. It’s possible they will, but they have so many keystone players that keep going down. If they get King and Burnett back they can still make the playoffs. If they get that offensive line right, they may even manage an above average offense. I suspect this just isn’t there year, and they won’t have enough firepower to overcome everything. My prediction would put them at 8-8 and I think that’s probably optimistic, but Hundley is a wild card, and no one knows what he’s capable of yet.
Evan “Tex” Western: Five
The Packers’ bye week coming up will be a godsend for a team dealing with injuries all over the secondary and the offensive line. That also will give Brett Hundley another two weeks to prepare for his second start, assuming he makes it through a date with New Orleans alive on Sunday.
Winning in Lambeau Field this week won’t be impossible, as I’m still not sold on the Saints, but I do think that the Packers fall due in large part to the injuries on the line causing Hundley to have little time to throw. After that, however, I only see two games that I’m confident in saying will be losses for the Packers - dates at Pittsburgh in week 12 and at Carolina in week 15.
Otherwise, there are four divisional games left: two games against the Lions (who suddenly have plenty of injuries of their own), a road game in Chicago, and a rematch against the Vikings -- this time at home -- any of which are still winnable. I think a 2-2 split there is perfectly reasonable. Then the Packers have three more games that they definitely should still be able to win: home games against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, plus a trip to play the winless Cleveland Browns. A 5-5 close to the season seems pretty plausible when breaking it down.
Peter Bukowski: Five
I’m going to predict five, but I don’t think six is unreasonable by any means and I wouldn’t be surprised if they got there.
I’m in on the Brett Hundley experience. He’s infinitely better than the Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, Matt Flynn’s dead body trio the Packers had last time Rodgers missed extended time.
And Jarrett Boykin won’t get 50+ targets from that uninspiring group of QBs. ESPN’s FPI gives Green Bay a 50+ win probability in seven of its final 10 games, which means even without Rodgers, they’re considered the better team in those games. That even accounts for the data from six games during an injury riddled start.
If the Packers get healthy, they can absolutely get over .500 for the season and be in the mix for the playoffs.
Jon Meerdink: Six
In 2013, the Packers managed to slog their way to a 3-5-1 record without Aaron Rodgers, and provided they ascend to some level of health, I don’t think there’s any reason this team couldn’t at least match that number.
Tentatively, I think we could pencil the Packers in for wins over the Bears, Buccaneers, and Browns, which means the Packers have to go 3-4 over their other seven games to make it to six wins over their final ten. That’s pretty doable, I think, especially given how inconsistently teams like the Lions, Ravens, and Steelers have played.
Mike McCarthy has squeezed big performances out of the likes of Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn, and I think Brett Hundley is at the very least equally as talented as those two players. Considering the cast he has around him, it’s not impossible for Hundley to play well enough to put the Packers in position to win six games down the stretch. The health of his teammates will go a long way towards that success, but It’s not impossible.
Bob Fitch: Four
I can, reasonably, see wins against the Bears, the Ravens, and the Browns. And I’ll throw in a game against the Lions. Looking at the rest of the schedule, I’m not concerned about the Green Bay offense; I have (an unfounded, possibly unreasonable) faith that Hundley and McCarthy will figure out a solid game plan to best utilize the new QB’s skillset. Every quarterback (except Jay Cutler, I think) wants to be a starter, and this is the best opportunity that Hundley will have to show off his talents.
What has me worried is the injury issues on defense, along with a general distrust of Dom Capers’ defensive playcalling. The Panthers look to be back on track, the Saints can score with the best of them, the Lions when healthy have a good offense, and I still believe in the Steelers and Bucs getting their offense going. As for the remaining game against the Vikings? It is at home, in prime-time, in December...but that’s not enough for me. Nobody can cover Adam Thielen this year, and the Vikings have managed to fix their horrendous offensive line of years past. Perhaps the last game threw me off a bit, but I just don’t see a win there.
Besides - if you set your expectations low, there’s a greater chance to exceed them and feel good about yourself!
Zach Rapport: Five
Call me crazy. Got it out of your system? Ok, good. Look—I’m not an analyst. I’m a fan. So, endure my take with a grain of green salt. When it was announced that Rodgers was likely done for the year, many fans began to have visceral flashbacks to 2013 when a similar injury gave way to a clown car of replacement quarterbacks. I mentioned this on this week’s APC Podcast, but I think it’s worth repeating here, as well: Brett Hundley was drafted as a response to 2013. He’s intended to be the solution to the Scott Tolziens of the world. By all accounts, he’s the most capable backup the Packers have had in many years. If you think Brett Hundley was the reason the Packers lost to the Vikings on Sunday, I have to wonder if we were watching the same game. Do I think the Packers are still vying for home field advantage in the playoffs? Not a chance. But in a division as muddy as the NFC North, and with some winnable games against poor pass defenses like Tampa Bay and Cleveland, sticking a fork in the Packers right now seems foolish to me. Plus, where’s the fun in that?
One last note. Brett Hundley has the opportunity to build his reputation up from scratch. Meanwhile, coach Mike McCarthy has the opportunity to silence critics who claim he’s a below average coach who lucked into a GOAT quarterback. If this narrative doesn’t intrigue you, I’d like to check your pulse.