Packers playoff hopes will be made or lost in Chicago

Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
Green Bay Packers Reporter

By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan //@Lucyrk78

It was pretty strange not seeing Mike McCarthy on the sidelines Sunday when the Green Bay Packers welcomed the Atlanta Falcons.

And while it’s still too early to make any big statements on the future of this season for the Packers, we have to love seeing the team put up a season-high 34 points.

I feel like the Packers played with more energy than they have so far this season, and definitely executed more efficiently than they have been. Is this Joe Philbin’s doing? Were they players responding to something they’ve wanted to have happen for as long as us fans have?

“One thing that you can hang your hat on is when changes are being made, two things are going to happen,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “Either you’re going to have a lot of energy, it’s going to breathe a little more energy into you, or it’s going to deflate you. We didn’t want to be deflated. We came in and we brought the energy and the focus today, and we’re glad that it showed on the field.”

It’s this kind of game that reminds you that even at 5-7-1, the Packers are not out of playoff contention. Everything went as right as it could to keep postseason hopes alive Sunday. Green Bay’s offense was more productive, especially on third down.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 5-of-6 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown on third down, and he also scrambled twice for 23 yards and a pair of first downs. In his previous six games, Rodgers completed 44 percent of his third-down passes with one touchdown and two rushing first downs, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

Even better? The teams the Packers needed to lose, did. Carolina, Washington, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia all lost.

Just as exciting as watching a Packers win? Rodgers broke QB Tom Brady’s record for most pass attempts (358) without an interception. His record-breaking 359th throw was a 24-yard touchdown to wide receiver Randall Cobb in the third quarter. In the first half, he and WR Davante Adams connected on a touchdown pass for the 11th time this season.

Rodgers’ last interception came in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills on a twice-deflected pass. It’s Rodgers’ only interception of the season. Coming into the game, Rodgers ranked first in NFL history in touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.22) among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 pass attempts.

The buzz surrounding Sunday’s rematch with the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field is already almost deafening. While this is ALWAYS an incredible match-up, Green Bay has lost ALL six road games this year and neither team is what they “usually” are. The Bears are having an enviable season, and Green Bay has faltered for most of this season. Odds are on Chicago to take the win…..but we’ll see.

Talk Packers with Lucy on Twitter @lucyRK78

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