Though it may not have played out exactly how we expected, a 3-2 record to open the season doesn’t feel like that big of a surprise. A trip to London isn’t easy, no matter who they opponent may be, and counting on the Packers to drop an early season game seems like a pretty good bet at this point.
But the manner in which they got to 3-2 is concerning. The offense has looked disjointed and ineffective, while the defense has looked totally lost. With a tough stretch of games looming toward midseason, our team of writers tried their hand at a bit of prognostication as to exactly what the Packers’ final record will be.
Paul Noonan: 8-9
Even if the offense starts to grow into something more formidable as the rookies develop and Royce Newman is eventually replaced, I don’t think it’s going to be enough to compensate for a Joe Barry defense that I doubt improves as long as Barry is here. This defense is talented, and all things considered, quite healthy. It’s more likely than not that they get less healthy as the season goes on, and things can absolutely get worse.
It’s hard to see them getting wins against Buffalo, Philly, or a healthy Miami in Florida, and I don’t trust them against an efficient Cowboys team with an outstanding defense, the Vikings, or even a struggling Rams team. There are also some serious matchup problems with the Jets this weekend and I’ll be picking New York in this game. They’re just not a very good team, and while I think they’ll probably sweep the Lions and Bears, and knock off the commanders, another random loss seems likely.
Jon Meerdink: 9-8
I think the Packers can still get to a winning record this year, but given the current state of things, it’s going to be hard. As of right now, I think they’ll lose to the Bills, the Lions on the road (where they always seem to play badly), the Cowboys, the Eagles, the Rams, and the Dolphins. That means they’ll need wins over the Vikings and Lions in Weeks 17 and 18 to get to 9-8. This feels a little pessimistic, and I think things could easily be better, but it just doesn’t feel like the Packers are that capable, or even that interested, in fixing their biggest problems right now. There’s been a lot of problem-owning (Matt LaFleur loves saying “I need to be better”) but not much problem-fixing.
Tex Western: 10-7
A week ago, I felt that the Packers’ offense was just a few plays away from getting things right. I have many more questions about the unit from a fundamental level after the loss to the Giants, but I think there’s a chance that Rodgers’ thumb injury could be a blessing in disguise if it forces him and the coaching staff to commit more fully to the run game.
I think that, plus Matt LaFleur bullying Joe Barry into playing more aggressively, should still be enough to get the Packers to a winning record and a Wild Card spot. There’s just too much talent on this team for me to believe that they miss the postseason. Whether they can win a playoff game is another question, but even despite the recent issues, 7-5 the rest of the way feels like a reasonable expectation to me.
I do think the offense works out enough of the kinks to be solid enough. Green Bay probably has enough talent on defense, plus some internal bullying of Joe Barry, to possibly squeak this defense from bad to decent. The big help is that Green Bay’s schedule just isn’t that hard. Going 11-6 with this schedule wouldn’t mean much as the gap between it and 9-8/8-9 is probably going to be pretty narrow for the Packers.