Green Bay Packers

What Are the Packers Playing For At This Point In the Season?

Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers suffered their fifth loss in six games and dropped to 3-6 when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat them. That’s not the way any team wants to be playing in November. It doesn’t get any easier for the cheeseheads, though. They play the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend, then they go to Detroit on a short week for a Thanksgiving game.

The Chargers are 4-5, but they are much better than their record shows. Three of their five losses have been close games against good teams. They dropped their first game by two points to the Miami Dolphins, lost to the Dallas Cowboys by a field goal, and lost to the Detroit Lions, 41-38, last week.

The Chargers also have a loaded and talented roster. Justin Herbert is a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. Austin Ekeler has been mightily productive over the last two seasons, averaging over 900 rushing yards and scoring 25 total touchdowns during that span. Keenan Allen is still one of the best receivers in the league at age 31. When healthy, Mike Williams can make some Randy Moss-like catches. But with him out for the season after tearing his ACL in Week 3, Quentin Johnston, the hotshot rookie receiver out of TCU, will be the other main target.

On defense, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack are two dynamic edge rushers, while Eric Kendricks leads the linebacking corps. Derwin James Jr. and Asante Samuel Jr. are the biggest threats in their secondary. The Chargers have a solid defensive unit coached by Brandon Staley, who coordinated the league’s best defense with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.

Furthermore, the Lions have already proven how good they could be this season, beating the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead on opening night and dismantling the Packers, 34-20, in Green Bay at the end of September.

The question for Green Bay here is whether or not they have much — or anything at all — to play for during this stretch. The Packers are 3-6 and could easily be 3-8 after the next two games. With December rapidly approaching and next year’s draft loaded with talent, it would not be a bad idea to start preparing for 2024.

The Packers currently have the eighth-overall pick. Assuming that they drop their next two games, they could land a top-five selection.

I am not necessarily saying the Packers should tank. They are a team that always plays to win, and Green Bay will support the team, regardless of their record. Still, there are positives to losing the next two games.

Caleb Williams, Marvin Harrison Jr., Brock Bowers, and Malik Nabers will be available in next year’s draft. Obviously, Green Bay’s biggest need is another wide receiver. Therefore, landing Harrison, Nabers, or Emeka Egbuka would make a massive impact on their roster.

The NFL season is more than halfway over, and it’s time to acknowledge that it’s been a lost year.

If the Packers are somehow able to perform a miracle and win their next two games, that would put them in position to get back to a .500 record. A victory over the Chiefs in early December would put them there. But the chances of that happening are slim to none.

A somewhat realistic outcome of this stretch would be for Green Bay to split against LA and Detroit. They have a better chance of beating the Chargers than they have of beating the Lions on Thanksgiving. If they split those games, then they enter December with a 4-7 record. At most, that would put them in the hunt for the seventh seed.

The seventh seed hasn’t won a game since the NFL introduced it in 2020. Therefore, sacrificing a spot in the draft for a long shot at an unwinnable playoff position would not make much sense. The Packers need to prioritize improving this young roster, and then they will get results on the field.

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