The Green Bay Packers are heading into a tough third quarter of the season. In the next five games, they will play the Rams (7-0), the Patriots (5-2), the Dolphins (4-4), the Seahawks (3-3), and their division rivals, the Vikings (4-2-1). Not only are they playing some strong teams, but four out of those five games are away. In fact, the Packers are going to be traveling over 8,000 miles these next few weeks, which puts a lot of added stress and ware on any team. Being on the road is going to be difficult for the Packers given that so far this season they are 0-2-1 in away games. It’s no secret that Aaron Rodgers does much better at Lambeau field, but given their wishy-washy start to the season, he and the rest of the team are really going to have to step it up if they want to be playoff contenders.
However, there are some positives to the Packers situation. They are coming off a bye, which gave them a much needed break and time to practice right before they face their arguably toughest opponent, the undefeated Rams. This bye also gave Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb the time they needed to rest and recover from their injuries. Allison is expected to return on Sunday and Cobb is still questionable, although he was practicing this week. Rodgers also said that he plans to play without his knee brace either this week or the following, which is a good sign as well.
The three teams out of these five that are going to be the most difficult for the Packers are the Rams, the Patriots, and the Vikings. Not only will these be difficult, but also extremely important for the Packers in the bigger picture of their season. If they can start off by beating the Rams and the Patriots, both really strong contenders, in Los Angeles and New England, respectively, then the rest of the season should be smooth sailing. The game against the Vikings, which comes at the end of this five game stint, is what could ultimately make or break the season for Green Bay. Currently, the Vikings are leading the NFC North, but they have only played one other division game and that was the tie against Green Bay in Week 2. A lot can change from now until Week 12, but with as tight of a race as it is in the NFC North currently, every game matters, especially these division match-ups.
Luckily for the Packers, the other two games, the ones against the Dolphins and the Seahawks might be a little easier. After a 3-0 start, the Dolphins have fallen to a 4-4 record. They are no longer playing as tough as they were when the season began and the Packers might be able to take advantage of that slip, especially since that game will be held at Lambeau. Seattle, like the Packers, have been pretty up and down this season, landing themselves an even .500 record as well.
With the division being so tight, the Packers being in second, anything is possible in terms of the playoffs. Rodgers has to play more consistently, finding a way to complete these passes that are so often miscommunicated, which also means that the receivers need to make the catches and not drop them like they’ve been doing all season. The offensive line also has to step up so that Rodgers doesn’t get sacked as often and the run game can become stronger. If they can control these aspects and manage the clock and the away atmosphere, the Packers could come out of these difficult weeks being a top NFC North contender.