Packers playoff hopes are still alive

Renee Rosenow

The Green Bay Packers’ season is far from over. Even though the Packers have lost two consecutive games, their playoff hopes are still very much alive.

Entering the season, many experts believed that the Packers would be one of the best teams in the NFC if Aaron Rodgers could perform adequately.

Rodgers has been so much more than adequate. The young quarterback, who just signed a contract extension through the 2014 season, has been among the league’s best in numerous statistical categories.

The problem the Packers have had this season has been injuries. Three defensive starters – Cullen Jenkins, Al Harris and Atari Bigby – have missed significant time due to injuries, and starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

If the Packers can remain healthy for the rest of the season, they can still make it to the playoffs.

Another problem that critics will be quick to point out is the Packers’ lack of a run defense. I don’t see this as a major problem. The Packers have given up a lot of yards, but to some very good running teams.

Playing Minnesota twice, Tennessee, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Seattle, who are all in the top 15 in team rushing yards per game, would be hard on any rushing defense, not to mention a team missing three defensive starters.

In the game against the Vikings, the Packers could not protect Rodgers at all, which is a concern for some. I, however, don’t see that as a problem either. Minnesota, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas and Tampa Bay have some of the best defensive linemen in the league, yet the Packers rank near the middle of the league in terms of sacks given up.

While that may not seem noteworthy, consider the fact that Pittsburgh, New England, Buffalo, Minnesota and other contending teams have given up more sacks than the Packers.

On the bright side, the Packers schedule is going to get easier in the coming weeks with two games against the Kyle Orton-less Bears, one against the winless Lions and three games against the sub .500 teams – Houston, Jacksonville and New Orleans.

The one truly tough game for the Packers is against the Carolina Panthers, who are currently 7-2. Also, four of the Packers’ remaining seven games will be held at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have lost only three times in the past two seasons.

The Packers are also a few plays away from being 7-2. Aaron Rodgers’ first safety against the Vikings could have easily not been called a penalty.

Against the Titans, had the Packers won the coin flip in overtime, they could have been the team to drive down the field for a victory.

In the game against the Falcons, had tight end Jermichael Finley not been called for holding on a Mason Crosby field goal before halftime, the score would have been tied at the end of regulation and the Packers could have won in overtime.

Rodgers is doing well for a first-year starter, but numerous other players are having outstanding seasons. Safety Nick Collins and cornerback Charles Woodson are tied for the league lead in interceptions, and current backup Tramon Williams is tied for second.

Aaron Kampman is having another outstanding season, and wide receiver Greg Jennings is among the league leaders in receiving yards.

These strong individual performances, as well as the Packers’ +4 turnover margin lead me to believe the Packers are capable of turning the season around.

Gourdoux is a sophomore print journalism major and copy editor of The Spectator.