A Step Away

Thanks to the Gods of football, the Green Bay Packers are still alive and will face their arch rival the Chicago Bears next Sunday for the NFC North crown. A victory by the Packers would be their third-straight division championship and fifth straight playoff appearance.

The Packers have this opportunity despite losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday in a game the Packers never should have lost. Two key mistakes by backup quarterback Matt Flynn led to the defeat. The Packers’ defense actually played pretty good considering it lost Clay Matthews and Brad Jones to injury midway through.

Crucial penalties also played a big part in the loss, especially the offsides on Nick Perry that gave the Steelers a first down when they were kicking a field goal. Then a Don Barclay false start on the Steelers one yard-line pretty much ended any chance the Packers had.

On defense the Packers really only gave up 24 points and got two turnovers. A.J. Hawk’s interception was a thing of beauty and getting a turnover inside the five is unheard of in these parts. The only way the Packers can beat the Bears is to win the turnover battle.

The real reason the Packers are still alive is because the play in the same division as the Lions, Vikings and Bears, who for this year anyway are three not very good teams. Of course without Aaron Rodgers the Packers are not very good either. Had Rodgers not gotten hurt the Packers would have probably locked up the division by Thanksgiving.

The case can be made the Packers might be better off losing and getting a better draft pick. Right now they would draft 16th next year but if they make the playoffs they are at least in the 20s again. The Packers would be huge underdogs in any playoff matchup even if it is at Lambeau Field. The NFC is so strong that it may have an 11-5 team not make the tournament.

If they weren’t playing the Bears I that is probably what I would prefer. But it is the Bears and if the Packers can beat them with Matt Flynn at quarterback my Bear fan friends will never hear the end of it. Confidence is not high though, not unless Rodgers is able to play.

It would be poetic justice if Rodgers were to come back against the team that knocked him and knock them out of the playoffs. You couldn’t sell that to Hollywood. Head coach Mike McCarthy said he and Ted Thompson would make that decision earlier than the past two weeks when it was announced on Friday that Rodgers was out. But I wouldn’t expect anything before Thursday.

It will be an interesting week and for me even having a chance is a moral victory. I won’t be disappointed unless they get blown out.

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