The Green Bay Packers entered week 13 perplexed, and searching for their identity after dropping their preceding four of five games. Now, only three weeks later, the Packers have clinched an NFC playoff spot, and are striving on a three-game win streak.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Packers were preparing to face the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Head Coach Mike McCarthy made the decision to resume offensive play-calling authorities prior to the game, after the offense had seen strains in several games prior.
“The decision was made because I feel as a leader of this football team, I had to make sure I maximize all the opportunities and resources and give our team a chance to win,” McCarthy said, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In the four games lost this season, the Packers average only 17 points per game, as opposed to the 29.7 points per game in their wins this season.
McCarthy’s decision to reclaim his role as offensive play-caller comes after McCarthy named long-time assistant Tom Clements the primary play-caller this offseason. Since the most recent switch, Clements has continued with his “usual responsibilities.”
In the most recent appearances, the Packers’ offense has seemingly found its identity, scoring 30 points versus the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and 28 against the Dallas Cowboys a week prior. In these games, Aaron Rodgers has averaged 212 passing yards per game with 2 touchdowns, coupled with backfield production of Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
However, the Packers recent success did not, and will not come easily. In control of a playoff birth, the Packers will play two crucial games to conclude the regular season.
In week 16, the Packers travel to Glendale, AZ to battle the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals, who currently possess the #2 seed in the NFC, claim a 12-2 record, as well as one of the two first round NFC byes. For the Packers to surpass the Cardinals, they must do so by winning out their remaining two games; the Cardinals must then lose out their final two games.
The following week, the last weekend of the NFL season, the Packers host the conference rivaled Minnesota Vikings to Lambeau Field. So far this season, the throne of the NFC north has been a back-and-forth affair between the two teams, and will come down to this week 17 matchup. The last time a team other than the Packers won the division was in 2010, when the Jay Cutler led Chicago Bears were trounced by the Packers on the way to the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl victory.
Regardless, the Packers may have found their rhythm that led them to their 6-0 start to the season. Despite the shake up at in calling offensive plays, the Packers have won their last three games, and are destined to compete for another NFC North championship.
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