You can’t blame fans of the Green Bay Packers if they have a sense of déjà vu heading into the 2023 season finale. In many ways, the team finds themselves in an identical position as they were heading into the final game of 2022. The Pack will be playing a home game against a divisional opponent with the playoffs on the line. Win and you’re in. Lose and you almost certainly go home. But will Matt LaFleur’s club rise to the occasion this time?

The Buildup to the Packers 2022 Win and You’re in Game

The 2022 Packers had an uneven season. They got off to a 3-1 start to the season before things turned sour. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken thumb on the final play of the team’s loss to the New York Giants in London. Although he didn’t miss any games, his effectiveness and accuracy were diminished.

The team lost five straight, falling to 3-6. After a loss to the Eagles in Week 12, the Packers fell to 4-8. They needed to win all of their remaining five games to have a realistic chance to make the playoffs. Green Bay managed to win four straight, beating the Bears, Rams, Dolphins, and Vikings to even their record at 8-8.

The season finale came against the Detroit Lions, a team the Packers lost to in Week 9. Detroit got off to a terrible 1-6 start to the season but went 7-2 to even their record at 8-8 heading into their Week 18 showdown in Green Bay.

The 2022 Packers Lose the Win and You’re in Game

The game was scheduled for Sunday Night Football. Although both teams were 8-8 entering the game, the results of the afternoon games meant the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention. The Packers still just need a victory to return to the playoffs for the fourth straight year since LaFleur became their head coach.

Unfortunately, the Packers did not rise to the occasion. The Lions beat the Packers 20-16 mostly due to the failure of the offense to score touchdowns.

The Pack drove into Lions territory on six drives during the game but managed to reach the end zone only once. Three times they had to settle for field goals by Mason Crosby.

Rodgers threw one touchdown and one interception and had a quarterback rating of just 83.1. He threw a second interception in the game, but it was called back by a penalty.

Rodgers’ receivers dropped at least three passes and running back Aaron Jones fumbled the ball away just before halftime with the Packers driving and ahead 9-3. The Lions drove downfield and kicked a field goal on the final play of the half. Instead of increasing their lead to nine or even 13 points, the Packers led by just three at the break. The ill-timed fumble helped change the momentum.

Inside linebacker Quay Walker was ejected from the game for pushing a Lions trainer with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Lions scored the winning touchdown on that drive with 5:55 left in the game.

The Packers got the ball back, but Kerby Joseph intercepted Rodgers and the Packers never got the ball back. This would be Rodgers’ final throw as a Packer.

Similarities Between 2022 and 2023

There are many similarities between last year’s season finale and the game Sunday against the Bears. Like last year, the Packers are 8-8 and control their won destiny: win and they’re in. The final game of the regular season is also at home and against a divisional opponent.

The Packers also slumped in the first half of the season and finished strong. Green Bay was 3-6 after nine games but has gone 5-2 since then to get to this point.

Jordan Love has matured as the season progressed as have his young receivers. Players like Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, and Tucker Kraft have stepped up and played well down the stretch. The return of Jones who missed significant time due to injury has also helped the offense in the second half of the season.

The Packers are also facing an up-and-coming division opponent who finished strong after a terrible start. The Bears started the season 2-7 but are 5-2 since then and enter the game at 7-9. Like the Lions last year, the Bears can no longer qualify for the playoffs even if they beat the Packers on Sunday afternoon.

The key question now is whether the 2023 Packers can succeed where the 2022 team fell short. Few people expected the Packers to qualify for the playoffs in this season of transition. They have a big chance to prove the naysayers wrong and gain valuable postseason experience for a roster full of young players. All they need to do is win one more game.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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