Packers roundtable: Will Green Bay win next two, set up Aaron Rodgers return?

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Aaron Rodgers
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Aaron Rodgers /

Will the Green Bay Packers win their next two games with Brett Hundley to pave the way for an Aaron Rodgers return? The Lombardi Ave staff had their say.

It’s been a rough ride since Rodgers got hurt. We’ve seen the best of Brett Hundley, and the very worst. The Packers have slumped to 1-5 since their two-time MVP broke his collarbone. So why is there a chance of winning two in a row?

That’s where the schedule comes in. Green Bay’s next two opponents are a combined 4-18.

First up are the Buccaneers, whose defense ranks dead last against the pass. The team has been decimated by injuries, and despite the fact quarterback Jameis Winston is set to return, it’s hard to believe his shoulder will be 100 percent.

Then come the Browns. The Packers have won more games this season than Cleveland has since the start of 2015.

But without Rodgers, nothing is guaranteed.

Will the Packers stay in playoff contention long enough to set up an Aaron Rodgers return?

Ralph Mancini: Can they? Absolutely. Will they? They should. Because Aaron Rodgers was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 20, the earliest he can be activated is Week 15, which means the Packers must take care of business versus Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

Despite the series of highs and lows this Packers’ squad has faced since their franchise quarterback’s shoulder mishap, the boys from Packers News are better than their next two opponents and will be expected to pick up a “W” in each contest.

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However, fans and media outlets have a way of continually pumping up heavy favorites to the point where players on the superior team often become a bit too cocksure of themselves and take their underdog adversary for granted.

The Buccaneers are an example of a defensively flawed team that can’t get it done in the trenches on both sides of the ball. However, they do have game breakers at the skill positions that can explode for a big play at any moment.

It’s very easy for a downtrodden 4-7 Bucs’ organization to get down on itself and go through the motions if the opposing side jumps on them early and crushes its spirit, which is exactly the formula the Packers must employ to ensure a victory this week.

While only a darkhorse, Green Bay can force its way into playoff contention if they win out. Luckily, they should win the next two even without No. 12 at the helm.

And if they do, anything is possible once Rodgers makes his much-anticipated return.

Brad Miller: The Packers next two games are very winnable. Home against a beat up and fight-less Tampa team and then a winless Cleveland team in Ohio.

These should be easier games right? I do believe the Packers are more than capable to pull out two wins and get their record to 7-6. Yet, I am leery of an over-confidence that may set in. This team can’t lose another game the rest of the season if they hope to make it to the playoffs.

If the Packers win the next two and if Rodgers comes back on all cylinders for the last three there is a chance, but I don’t believe it will happen. They will not win out with or without Rodgers.

That said, I have liked the way the defense has stepped up and played the last few weeks. What a difference Morgan Burnett makes when he is in the lineup. Blake Martinez has been a beast all year at linebacker.

I am happy with the offensive line. They have band-aided a lineup that has given Hundley a chance to get the plays ran.

I have been impressed with how hard and effective Jamal Williams has run the ball with his chance to play. He looks like he should be starting the rest of the year.

Davante Adams has been outstanding all year and that hasn’t slipped since Hundley started taking snaps a month ago. He has proven that he is an elite talent. Unfortunately, it may be coming at the expense of Jordy Nelson.

Even Hundley had a good game on Sunday night against the Steelers. He is having some moments but not consistently like he should.

I do not believe that the Packers will make it to the playoffs this year. Too much to overcome and even if Rodgers gets back to playing he will not be at 100 percent for the team to beat the Panthers, Vikings and Lions in three consecutive weeks. A 9-7 record won’t make the playoffs this year in the tough NFC.

I hope that I’m wrong.

Joe D’Aloisio: If the Packers want to stay in playoff contention, they absolutely need to win these two games. Realistically, they can’t afford to lose another game and will need some help to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Packers have a great opportunity to stay in playoff contention long enough to set up an Aaron Rodgers return.

Mike McCarthy discussed the possibility of Rodgers returning to practice later this week. Rodgers could return to action Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers, if he is cleared. 

It will be crucial for the Packers to rely on their rushing attack and capitalize on turnovers if they want to be in the playoff conversation. But, one loss before Rodgers is cleared will end their season.

Freddie Boston: The Packers have to consider themselves very fortunate the way the schedule has fallen. Had the upcoming dates with Carolina and Minnesota come a little earlier, the team could kiss goodbye to its playoff dreams.

Call it fate, but the Packers’ 2017 story isn’t done yet. Games against Tampa Bay and Cleveland swing open the door for a chance to right the ship and get Rodgers back on the field. And as Ralph said, anything can happen with No. 12 out there.

The “America’s Game” story is writing itself. Green Bay’s season has been loaded with drama and adversity. If it can somehow overcome the odds and stay in the wild-card race long enough to get Rodgers back, “Run the Table 2.0” might become a legitimate possibility.

Here’s the good news: Green Bay needs to win out, but Brett Hundley doesn’t. He just has to help the team get past the league’s No. 32-ranked pass defense at home, then take care of the winless Browns on the road.

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I think Hundley will play his part.

The rest will be down to the two-time MVP. And when he’s on the field, the Packers always have a chance.