Mike McCarthy likes to say you are what your record says you are. Right now, the Packers’ record says they’re a pretty average team.
But hope springs eternal, and with just three weeks between the Packers and some suddenly much-needed R&R, we’re taking a second to predict what the Packers’ record will say they are in just under a month’s time.
Here’s what our writers had to say.
Shawn Wagner: 4-1-1
This Packers team is too talented to continue playing at the slow-starting, sloppy level it has for the majority of the season. It also helps to have two more home games in this three-game stretch. If two straight weeks of sub-standard play isn’t enough motivation to turn things around, I don’t know what is.
Offensively, Green Bay has shot itself in the foot with penalties and drops and needs to get back to the same rhythm it had when Aaron Rodgers was forced to get the ball out quickly in the second half of the Chicago game. Since the first half against Minnesota, the Packers have gotten away from what has made them successful and made too many mental errors. Making small adjustments while utilizing Aaron Jones at a higher rate should significantly aid the offense. Facing three excellent defenses is a tough task in the first three weeks of the season and it should get a little easier going forward.
Plain and simple, the Packers’ defense also needs to get off to better starts. With a week to prepare for Josh Allen, I’m hopeful he will be more contained by Green Bay than he was in Minnesota last week. Prior to his emergence, the Bills’ offense was downright awful. With the Lions’ offense still finding its way and San Francisco losing Jimmy Garoppolo, the Packers have some favorable matchups the next three weeks. Heading into the bye at 4-1-1 is certainly feasible, though I expect some close games in typical Packers fashion.
Bob Fitch: 3-2-1
While I’d agree with Shawn that this team is too talented to be playing at their current mediocre level, I think they drop a game that is otherwise very winnable. I think that their offense will get rolling with just a few corrections and play calling adjustments, and that the defense will not be as passive in the first half of football games.
The upcoming game against the Bills, at the outset of the season, looked like a trap game. After dropping the game against Washington and the Bills completing the largest upset in modern history, I certainly hope Green Bay doesn’t overlook Buffalo, as they aren’t talented enough to do so and expect to win. I’m predicting a comfortable win here, as Pettine will confuse the rookie quarterback Allen and cause a couple of turnovers.
The Lions game, at Detroit, is where I’m predicting a loss. Aaron Rodgers split games against the Lions in 2014 and 2015, while narrowly winning both games in 2016 (let’s all agree to forget about last year in general). I think there’s another split in their matchups this year, and, depending on the Bills game, might not have shaken off their early-game problems yet.
San Francisco isn’t there yet collectively as a team, especially on defense, and losing Jimmy G only dampened their chances to field a good team this year. Barring any big setbacks, this game is easily winnable and Green Bay does just that at home in prime time to build a bit of momentum heading into the bye week.
Paul Noonan: 3-2-1
I suspect they drop a game that they have no business losing, and I suspect that happens a lot this season. I’d bet on the Lions, but given what the Bills just did to the Vikings it could be any team. The Packers’ offense will continue to be maddening, and with the offensive line in rough shape, Rodgers is either going to have to return to his quick-hitting ways, or he may find himself hurt yet again.
I have more confidence in Pettine’s defense righting the ship with the addition of Breeland and the subtraction of House, but the loss of Wilkerson hurts. The bigger problem with the defense is just a problem with the NFL generally in the the best way to play defense at this point is to generate a holding penalty, and to not get flagged yourself. That level of randomness driven by the increase in flags this season makes predicting a defense nearly impossible. Without the call on Matthews in the Viking’s game, Kirk Cousins’ has terrible stats on the season. If several call flip in last week’s game, the Packers probably win, and Rodgers has elite stats.
The Packers may be good, but they’re not good enough to overcome the garbage inflicted on the league by the NFL, and so the most likely scenario going forward is a .500 team, or close to it.
Jon Meerdink: 4-1-1
Three weeks in, we’re still learning about this year’s version of the NFL. Teams are still growing into their identities, and even almost a month into the season, it’s hard to get a firm read on a given squad.
The Packers are pretty emblematic of this idea. In a given quarter, their offense could look like an unstoppable juggernaut or a machine designed to generate three-and-outs. From one half to the next, the defense swings from suffocating to sieve-like. On any play, the special teams unit could produce a towering punt by JK Scott or a pass to Mason Crosby.
But fortunately, the Packers’ opponents between now and the bye week are nearly just as undefined. Josh Allen looked like a world beater last week but completed 55% of his passes the week prior. The 49ers just lost their starting quarterback. The Lions are the Lions.
If the Packers are going to break out of their 1-1-1 stupor and put together a string of good games, now is as good a time as any. They may be due for a run of good play, and as well all know, feeling like you’re due for success is a sure indicator of your chances going forward.
Evan “Tex” Western: 4-1-1
I’ll be an optimist here and say that I feel good about the Packers rebounding from their abysmal performance in Washington. That game was in the Packers’ grasp, both literally and figuratively; if not for a series of bad drops on third or fourth downs and a late fumble, the offense is in position to sustain several drives and stay very much in a competitive game. Furthermore, the defense has had stretches of exceptional play, showing the potential in Mike Pettine’s unit.
While nobody will overlook the Bills after their drubbing of Minnesota, I expect a bit of a letdown from them this week at Lambeau, while the Packers should be out for blood after last Sunday’s loss. Detroit may have beaten the Patriots last week, but Aaron Jones and company should be able to run all over their defense. And San Francisco seems like a different team without Jimmy G at the helm, and the Packers will want to go into the bye on a high note.
Before the season, 5-1 was seen as a reasonable goal for this first stretch. The Packers can’t quite get there now, but they can very feasibly end up a half-game behind that pace.
Mike Vieth: 4-1-1
I think the Packers fell victim of the classic letdown game against Washington because of very emotional games against their two biggest rivals to start the season. Their performance against Washington did worry me though because I think it showed they aren’t as good as I had thought going into the season. They had a tough schedule going into the year and I was figuring they’d win 10 maybe 11 games at best. A loss to Washington wasn’t expected and that makes these next three games extremely big and almost must win games.
I say they will win their next three more because they need to bounce back and treat them do or die. Buffalo, Detroit and San Francisco, especially without Jimmy G, all have inferior talent and the Packers need these wins if they want a shot at the playoffs. While some may say how can they be must wins already, just look at what they have after the bye: the Rams, Patriots, Dolphins, Seahawks and the Vikings for their next five. That’s a buzzsaw of teams and all but Miami, who is 3-0 by the way, are on the road. That is an extremely tough stretch and are not going to be easy games.
So, expect a big bounce back the next few weeks. These next three are vital to the Packers playoff hopes and without a three victories, we may find the Packers on the outside looking in when in comes to the playoffs.