Now that their bye week is behind them, it’s time to start taking a serious look at where the Green Bay Packers are heading in 2023. Is this a team that can potentially make the playoffs in the first year of the post-Aaron Rodgers era? Many of the top US betting sites are giving long odds on the Packers making the playoffs with the implied probability being around 40% or less.
Of course, Green Bay is just five games into the season, so there is a lot that can change between now and the end of the season. Let’s take a closer look at Green Bay’s playoff hopes and what needs to happen for the Packers to play in the postseason.
Reasons to Believe in the Packers
At 2-3, the Packers aren’t exactly well-positioned for a playoff spot. However, one of those losses came by a single point against the Falcons in a game the Packers let get away from them. They also fell short in a primetime game in Las Vegas. Either of those games could have easily gone the other way, which would change where Green Bay sits at the moment. Surely, more close games are on the horizon for the Packers, so with better play in the fourth quarter, those close losses could start to become wins.
The Packers should also be pleasantly surprised with the play of quarterback Jordan Love. Sacks and turnovers plagued Love and the Packers in losses to the Lions and Raiders. But Love also began the year with three touchdown passes in back-to-back games and led a comeback victory over New Orleans in Week 3. In his first full season as a starter, Love has plenty of room for improvement and should have his best games ahead of him, which should also help Green Bay in close games.
Reasons to Doubt the Packers
With Love still developing as a starter in the NFL, he’s going to need plenty of help. Thus far, it doesn’t look like the Packers are providing enough help. They currently rank 27th in rushing with leading rusher A.J. Dillon averaging just three yards per carry. The Packers are hoping to get Aaron Jones healthy and performing the way he has in the past, but that has not yet been the case.
It’s also a little concerning that the Packers are 2-3 against teams that are a combined 15-15. Green Bay’s schedule has been rather modest, yet the Packers are giving up 22.6 points per game while only scoring 22.6 points per game. Those numbers point to a team that’s mediocre, and mediocre teams don’t typically get into the playoffs.
The Road Ahead
Moving forward, the Packers still have six games left on their schedule that currently have a losing record. That includes Green Bay’s final three games of the season. Of Green Bay’s six games against teams with a .500 record or better, four of those games are at home. Even road games against the Steelers and Lions are winnable games.
Given Green Bay’s manageable schedule and propensity for playing close games, the playoffs are very much on the table for the Packers. The NFC wild-card race appears to be wide open, even for a team that got off to a sluggish start like the Packers. However, to reach the playoffs, Green Bay will need more from its running game, its defense, and from Love. There is a lot that needs to go right for the Packers, which is why the Green Bay faithful shouldn’t get their hopes up too much about a trip to the playoffs this season.