According to a web simulator from the New York Times, with more than 3 billion variants, the Green bay packers they already have a 99% chance of advancing to the playoffs of the NFL 2021. It is not only a matter of mathematics, but of the motivation and restructuring that the team made from the bucket of cold water it received after a scandalous match on matchday 1, which was not repeated.
The Packers succumbed 38-3 in week 1 to the New Orleans Saints, his worst opening loss since 40-0 against the Detroit Lions in 1970 and which also resulted in the worst result in the career of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has worn these colors for 16 years. Currently, they are only the second team in the entire league to reach nine victories, with a 9-3 record after defeating the Los Angeles Rams (36-28) in Week 12. Along those lines, only the Arizona cardinals They have a 9-2 record.
But the serenity came precisely in the voice and in the arms of Rodgers: “If we are starting to freak out after a week, we are in a big problem (…) I was trying to put the defeat in the context in which it deserves to be put. Sure, it’s not acceptable, but it’s just a game and we’re not going to be mentally prisoners for that bad performance, ”he said in a prophetic voice.
After that catastrophic start, the Packers They scored seven straight victories, the longest winning streak in NFL history and trailing by 30 points or more in the opening game. The only antecedents were those of the Raiders in 1976 and the 49ers in 1994, who, curiously, ended those seasons as champions of the Super bowl, the great goal that Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are pursuing in 2021 after losing the Conference final to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by Tom Brady in 2020-21.
One of the attitude changes in Green bay it was defense. Against star quarterbacks like Kyler Murray (Cardinals), Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks), the Packers defense has allowed a total of 34 points. We would have to go back to 2015 to find a stretch of three games in which he allowed 34 points or less, this time against the 49ers, Rams and Chargers, who finished the season in 32, 29 and 26 in points, respectively.
The Packers They are a team that lost its two best defenders in Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander, two players who dramatically impact opposing pass attacks. However, back in the era without these names, they have allowed 593 passing yards and a 61.9 passer rating in the last three games leading up to Week 11 against the Vikings.
They not only suffered these casualties. Already during the 2021 season in action, the Covid-19 impacted on Aaron Rodgers himself and Davante Adams, pillars of the team that helped last year’s 13-3 record.
Still, those of Green bay managed to stop the unbeaten streak of the relentless Arizona cardinals to leave them at seven; in fact, Rodgers was diagnosed with a toe injury that will accompany him for the rest of the season, but he didn’t give up on continuing his record of 2,186 yards and 17 touchdown passes.
Green bay, Cardinals and Titans they were the first three teams of the season to reach eight victories, although the case of the Packers stood out for their resurgence after the loss by more than 30 points; after that, they only lost again in week 9 against Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City (13-7) and in week 11 against Minnesota Vikings (34-31).
As for rebirth at the rear, former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was already a first pass coach and built a defense hell-bent on stopping fast passes. A year ago, Packers they allowed just 89 passing yards all season, but they were also routinely hit on the field and struggled to tackle underneath. It was a defense that had a bias in the right direction, with Pettine straying away from his patented unique appearance, but he didn’t go far enough in his focus.
Another important factor in the awakening of Green bay it is precisely the winning attitude of his quarterback. With Rodgers in the last 16 years they have only missed the playoffs three times and have recorded double-digit victories in nine seasons. They won the Super bowl after the 2010 season, but since then, they have lost in the NFC title game four times, including the past two years. And the year after the Super Bowl win, Green Bay had a 15-1 team that was upset in the divisional round.
From the team’s perspective, Packers They have achieved a kind of sustainability, going around the roster several times without hitting bottom and maximizing skills. From Rodgers’ perspective, the success has not been great enough to fulfill his personal goals, as he will turn 38 on December 2 and to his credit there is only one ring as a winner of the Super bowl, despite the fact that he has been MVP of the league three times (2011, 2014 and 2020), as well as having the lowest percentage of interceptions with 1.4%.
The Packers They will close the regular season at home against the Bears, Browns and Vikings, as well as visits to the Ravens and Lions, waiting to validate that 99% chance of qualifying for the playoffs. Although that flavor is not enough, because they seek to get rid of the thorn of staying one step away from Super Bowl in 2020 due to the elimination at the hands of the reigning champions, the Buccaneers.
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Packers: defensive restructuring for a record year