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Cheese Curds, 12/19: Falcons win eliminates Packers from playoffs, so now what?

After doing some scoreboard watching on Monday night, the Packers are officially eliminated, putting them in a strange position with two weeks to play.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this is weird.

For the first time since 2008 and just the second time in Aaron Rodgers’ career as a starter, the Green Bay Packers are not going to the playoffs. That was a strong likelihood after their loss on Sunday to the Carolina Panthers, and was assured by a Atlanta Falcons win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

It is also the first time in many Packers’ pro careers that that there is no postseason in their future. That means that this team will need to find something new to rally around over the final two weeks of the season. Perhaps they can play for their pride; perhaps playing spoiler for a pair of divisional rivals can get their motivations up. But whatever does it, there are still two more games to play.

Rodgers, of course, might not play in these last two contests. With the team bringing Joe Callahan back, it seems logical that they are planning to shut Rodgers down and start Brett Hundley.

More than that, however, missing the playoffs could portend some changes on the coaching staff. The popular name on the fans’ chopping block is of course Dom Capers, so we’ll have to wait and see if Mike McCarthy decides to cut him loose.

For now, it’s time to come to grips with the end of the playoff streak, and to look ahead to 2018.

Falcons vs. Buccaneers: 5 winners and 2 losers from Atlanta’s 24-21 win -
Both quarterbacks had solid nights in Tampa, but Devonta Freeman was the biggest star for the Falcons' offense and he provided the winning margin with a big touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

End of Packers' playoff streak could be the start of significant changes - ESPN
In the short term, Rodgers could be shut down -- the team has reportedly re-signed Joe Callahan to the 53-man roster after working out two other quarterbacks. In the longer term, the end of the playoff streak could put Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson in jeopardy, though that seems unlikely. Still, both men have just one more year remaining on their contracts.

Without playoffs, Packers’ final two games ‘all about pride’ |
So now what? Ahmad Brooks and Jahri Evans are among the few players who have been in this situation before and they say that pride is on the line and the players need to take these two games to just focus on continuing to improve for the future.

Packers LT David Bakhtiari earns top PFF grade for Week 15 vs. Panthers | Packers Wire
Bakhtiari was a stud on Sunday, keeping Aaron Rodgers clean all game long and has allowed just six pressures all season, per PFF.

McCarthy: 'That was a dirty hit' |
While McCarthy wouldn't disclose any plans for Rodgers on Monday -- the team was probably waiting for the results of Bucs-Falcons to finalize that decision -- he did take the Panthers and particularly linebacker Thomas Davis to task for the hit that knocked Davante Adams out. With two meaningless games left, it would be crazy to think that Adams should come back before the end of the year.

Buccaneers bench Doug Martin for rule violation -
That probably didn't help the Bucs; who knows if Martin could have provided enough of a boost to lead the Bucs to a win.