Green Bay Packers playoff hopes may hinge on magic


Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a much-needed win over the Atlanta Falcons the Green Bay Packers head to Dallas to keep their playoff hopes from melting away in Jerry World.

The Packers’ ability to make the playoffs is for the first time in several seasons out of their control. They need the Lions to lose at least one game. And for their part the Packers need to win the remaining games on their schedule. The prerequisites for a playoff berth are a little bit luck and a return to playing as they did in September and October.

The Packers are being a bit coy about Aaron Rodgers returning to play against the Cowboys. Several players, including Packer tight end Andrew Quarless relayed that Rodgers did indeed take reps with the first team during Wednesday’s practice. Coach McCarthy on the other hand is indicating that Matt Flynn is the starter. For what it’s worth, Jason Garrett and the Cowboys are saying that they are preparing for Rodgers to line up under center.

Dallas is in a similar quandary as the Packers in that they too need to win out to have a shot at the playoffs. The Cowboys’

Burlington, Wisconsin, native Tony Romo

offense led by Cheesehead defector Tony Romo and running back Demarco Murray has been potent at times. In fact in their loss to the Bears on Monday Romo threw for 3 touchdowns and had a QB rating of 109. Murray ran for 146 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per carry.

Despite giving up no turnovers and both Romo and Murray displaying stellar performances the Cowboys still lost by 17 to Chicago. Their defense stinks, ranked 32nd against the pass and 28th against the run. They have sacked the opponent’s quarterback just 27 times and are ranked 27th in the league. The Chicago Bears scored on eight straight drives. The only drive the Dallas defense “stopped” was Bears quarterback Josh McCown’s kneel down to close out the game.

The Cowboys ugly loss in the Windy City of course prompted their owner Jerry Jones, a man who redefines the definition of playing fantasy football to call for changes on the defensive side of the ball. As what seems to often be the case in Dallas, coaches’ jobs are on the line and players know theirs most likely are, too. Jones is calling for more blitzing of the quarterback to give their defense a spark. What Jerry wants, he often gets and that might be why they Cowboys have not made the playoffs since 2009.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Conversely, the Packers who, despite their horrendous month of November, have seemed to abide by Coach McCarthy’s motto of  “Keep Calm and Carry On,” and in doing so have kept a unified locker room. For the Packers and especially the veterans on the team know that anything can happen in the second season that is the playoffs.

If Matt Flynn and company can squeak out another win and buy just a bit more time for Aaron Rodgers to get healthy it could change the course of the season.

The Packers and the faithful of Packers Nation know that the return of Rodgers could very much be like Frosty the Snowman putting on the old silk hat he found. The magic that Aaron Rodgers beholds could allow them to go “thumpetty-thump-thump” through the playoffs to the Super Bowl they go. But all that would be a puddle, a pile of coal, buttons and a corn cob pipe with a loss to the Cowboys.