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Can the high-seeded, win-ugly Packers really contend for the Super Bowl? – ESPN


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  • Kevin SeifertESPN Personnel Writer

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    • ESPN.com national NFL writer
    • ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
    • Protected Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

MINNEAPOLIS — No just one talks about the Inexperienced Bay Packers, and it is not tough to comprehend why.

In a common year dominated by younger quarterbacks, the Packers have an previous a single who might have witnessed much better days. In a calendar year when we’ve seen the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints innovate dominant offenses, the Packers are dull and predictable and rank ninth in scoring amongst the ten teams that have skilled for the playoffs.

The Packers dare you to sustain endurance past any sensible measure. I shed mine around midseason, when they fell flat in opposition to the Los Angeles Chargers, have been blown out by the San Francisco 49ers and struggled to conquer the likes of the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Washington Redskins.

But below they are. The Packers have made a season of profitable “hideous” online games. They have received 12 of them — as many as any NFL group this aspect of the Ravens has gained — and it truly is getting harder to overlook them.

23-10 victory around the Minnesota Vikings on Monday. They also set on their own in very good placement to get paid a very first-round playoff bye and have a good possibility — 30%, in accordance to ESPN’s Football Ability Index — to wind up with residence-subject edge all over the NFC playoffs.

It just isn’t out of the query that the path to the Super Bowl will go as a result of Lambeau Field.

“There is a great deal of emphasis on wanting quite or dominating in the way that matches expectation,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers explained. “But … it does not make any difference how we get it completed as very long as we get it done.”

That was certainly genuine Monday night. Rodgers finished with a 36.8 Overall Quarterback Ranking, his seventh sub-40 efficiency of the season. The Packers trailed until 2:03 remained in the third quarter. They gifted the Vikings all 10 of their points by way of turnovers, and coach Matt LaFleur refused to abandon a plan to establish managing back Aaron Jones. His endurance was rewarded, even if it tortured the game’s viewers. Jones’ dashing generation greater by each quarter, and he had 109 yards and two touchdowns following halftime on the way to a 154-lawn match.

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Anthony Harris picks off Aaron Rodgers to commence the next quarter for the Vikings.

It helped, of system, that the Packers’ defense overpowered the Vikings’ offense line and minimal them to 57 dashing yards and seven first downs, their lowest full in a household match considering that 1971. If you want to be snarky, you may be aware that the Vikings were lacking their best two tailbacks, Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, and that quarterback Kirk Cousins was stumbling through his normal Monday evening jitters. Irrespective, Packers remaining deal with David Bakhtiari mentioned, “Our defense retained us in the sport and permit us be us for 4 quarters.”

“We’ve had a transform in our id,” Bakhtiari extra. “I imagine everybody about us is made use of to a higher-driven offense that is going to light up a scoreboard. But we are a balanced staff.”

Twelve victories in 15 normal-time games proves, by definition, that the Packers have a winning formula. There is a good line amongst getting balanced and remaining mildly capable on either facet, and the Packers have straddled that line for most of the period. But most of their gamers jaunted by way of the locker place Monday night with shirts that go through “The North is not plenty of.” They argued that successful in unassuming vogue has constructed a battle-tested staff that is primed for a deep playoff run.

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Kicker Mason Crosby, who has played in every Packers playoff activity since 2007, claimed he has no doubt that this crew has the exact same ingredients as some of the franchise’s most effective groups of the century.

“We are a single of all those teams that finds strategies to gain,” he stated. “We’ve had a pair unfortunate ones get absent from us when we failed to engage in our most effective. But this staff has a passion and electrical power that is difficult to describe. I glimpse again at some of our definitely very good groups right here, and we just sort of have that X element, the detail that tells you that any sport we participate in, we can locate a way to gain.”

It really is 1 issue to obtain a way to defeat the Panthers or Redskins or Giants — or even a Vikings crew participating in without just one of its greatest players. But can the Packers seriously defeat the 49ers, Saints or Seahawks in the playoffs?

Every person has an belief, and this is mine: They are not able to do it by subsequent Monday’s method. To dress in out an opponent with the functioning match calls for a protection that holds a high-conclude offense at bay. It’s real that the Packers held their previous 4 opponents to fifteen or less factors per recreation, but people opponents provided the No. 31 scoring offense (Redskins), the No. 30 (Bears), the No. 19 (Giants) and the Vikings without having Cook and Mattison.

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To acquire playoff video games, the Packers will want a thing from Rodgers that they haven’t gotten or even questioned for: a general performance that matches some of his singular playoff games, from the 2010 divisional playoff against the Atlanta Falcons to the 2016 divisional game towards the Dallas Cowboys. That’ll get us all chatting about the Packers all over again, not for aesthetic factors but for competitive types, alternatively of noting that Rodgers now ranks twenty first in the NFL in QBR (fifty two.two).

“I have constantly just tried out to do what the staff desired,” Rodgers claimed. “There have been instances more than the many years when I desired to do some of those people issues I have accomplished around the years. This 12 months it is distinct, dependent on the personnel we have and the plan that we are working. I am striving to be opportunistic, but we’ve received a really great run recreation heading.”

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