The Green Bay Packers have two games left on their 2023 regular season schedule. According to computer models, if they win both games, they have a better than 90 percent chance to reach the playoffs. But will they get it done? Here are three reasons the Packers will reach the playoffs and three reasons why they will not.
First Reason the Packers Will Make the Playoffs: Aaron Jones Is Healthy
Aaron Jones is the catalyst who takes the Packers offense to the next level. His cutback ability and his effectiveness as both a runner and a receiver forces defenses to account for a lot more when he’s at his best.
Jones is finally healthy again. He gained a season-high 127-yards rushing against the Panthers last week and set the tone for the offense on the team’s opening drive for the second straight game.
Head coach Matt LaFleur must get the ball into Jones’ hands early and often. When Jones gets 20 or more touches in a game, the Packers are 20-3 over the course of his career.
Second Reason the Packers Will Make the Playoffs: Jordan Love Is Playing Well
Quarterback Jordan Love has picked up his game in the second half of the season and has become a quality NFL starter. The Utah State alum has a quarterback rating of 100 or better in five of the team’s last six games. During that time, he has thrown 13 touchdowns and just one interception.
If Love continues to mature and plays well in the final two games, the Packers should have a good chance to score enough points to overcome the struggles of the defense.
Third Reason the Packers Will Make It: The Team Is Getting Healthier
The Packers have already gotten some key players back from injury in recent weeks. In addition to Jones, cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes are playing again. Hopefully, they shake off some of the rust and play better down the stretch.
Starting tight end Luke Musgrave is practicing again and could return to the lineup before the end of the season. That would give the offense two dangerous and complimentary receiving weapons at tight end.
Receivers Jayden Reed, Christian Watson and Dontayvion Wicks could also be back for one or both of the last two games. That would give Love more weapons to throw to and make it harder for opposing defenses to game plan.
First Reason the Packers Will Miss the Playoffs: The Defense Has Been Brutal
Let’s face it, the Packers defense has been terrible in recent weeks. Opposing coaches find Joe Barry’s defense predictable and easy to pick apart.
The Packers rank near the bottom of the league in run defense and their use of soft coverages and an outdated scheme make it easy for opposing teams to pass on the Packers when they need to.
Non-elite quarterbacks like Tommy DeVito, Baker Mayfield, and Bryce Young all enjoyed career games against the Packers in recent weeks.
The defense appears to lack confidence in the coaching staff and scheme. Unless the defense plays better, the offense will have to score a lot of points to win games.
Second Reason the Packers Will Miss: The Packers Are Inexperienced
The Packers remain one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Many of these players have never been in big games with the playoffs on the line since turning pro.
Young teams also tend to be less consistent. The Packers need to put together a three-game winning streak to make the playoffs [they’ve already won one]. That may not be easy for an inexperienced football team.
Will the pressure cause them to stumble or is this team too young to know they should be nervous under these circumstances? If it’s the former, the Packers will be in trouble. If it’s the latter, they could be a dangerous opponent.
Third Reason the Packers Will Miss the Playoffs: Injuries Are Still a Factor
While the Packers are getting healthier, how many of the injured players will return and how effective will they be when they do take the field?
We have seen the rusty play of Alexander and Stokes since they returned. Musgrave has missed the last five games. Watson missed the last three games and was just getting fully healthy when he re-injured his hamstring.
The Packers will need as many healthy players as possible available to win their final two games which are both against division rivals.
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