Can a week six game be considered a must-win game? Sitting a 2-2-1, the answer might be yes for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have looked rocky through the first five weeks of the season. Week one featured Aaron Rodgers spraining his knee, followed by a twenty point comeback against the Chicago Bears. Week two was a back and forth battle with the Minnesota Vikings that ended in a tie. The following three games have been a roller coaster featuring two lackluster performances and a defensive shutout.
As the Packers head into Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, it’s clear the up and down games need to stop. While his knee injury has limited his mobility, Rodgers has been surprisingly inaccurate on some throws. Surprisingly, the Packers defense has played well through five games, ranking fourth in total defense. What has killed the Packers defensively are penalties, either pass interference, well documented roughing the passer calls, or other personal fouls. Add to all of that a few mistakes from the Packers special teams and this season has gone in several different directions.
So what makes Monday a must-win game? For starters, a win would put the Packers in a virtual tie with the Bears at the top of the NFC North. Going into the bye week practically in first place would be a great morale booster. Secondly, after the bye week, the Packers have four of five games on the road. Those games include visits at the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, and the Vikings. Sitting at 3-2-1 before that stretch could mean the Packers would be fine going 2-2 in those games.
Perhaps the biggest reason why Monday night is so important for the Packers is a chance to see what this team can do when it’s firing on all cylinders. In the shutout victory over the Buffalo Bills, the offense could not finish drives, as it has failed to do all season. In the second half last week against the Detroit Lions, the defense shut down Matthew Stafford, but Mason Crosby missed four field goals, and the Packers committed three turnovers.
Sometimes, it just takes one win to turn a season around. One complete game might not fix all the Packers issues, but it may solve some.