Green Bay Packers: 3 Big Questions Heading into the Playoffs

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 29: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers makes a short pass during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 29: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers makes a short pass during the first quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

While the Green Bay Packers get the opportunity to heal up and prepare for the Divisional round, let’s take a look at the three big questions surrounding this team in the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers earned a well deserved bye in the first-round of the playoffs by finishing the season 13-3, winners of the NFC North, and the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC. The week off provides them with the opportunity to rest, get healthy, and begin preparing for the Divisional round where they will take on either New Orleans, Seattle or Philadelphia.

For every week of the regular season, I wrote about my big questions that I had about this Packers team and the opponent that they faced. However, even though there is no opponent this week, I still have some big questions about Green Bay and how their regular season performances will translate to the postseason.

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Can the run defense continue playing well?

We’ve seen some really spectacular performances from the Green Bay Packers’ defense in 2019 but on the flip side, we’ve seen some bad stretches as well. And a big contributor to their success – or failures – has to do with how well they defend the run.

For much of the season, Green Bay’s run defense – especially between the tackles – has been a major issue. Over the first three months or so, they ranked in the 25 to 28 range in terms of rushing yards per game given up, and it’s not a coincidence that defensively there were ups and down during that stretch.

However, over the last handful of games, they’ve been much better and so has the defensive performance as a whole. During the four game stretch from the Giants game to the Vikings game, the Packers allowed just 92 rushing yards per game. Nearly 40 yards less than what their season average had been up to that point. Not to mention that overall, they allowed just 12.8 points per game over that span as well.

When Green Bay is able to slow down the opposing team’s running game, it for one makes that team one-dimensional, creates more third and long situations, and allows Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark to pin their ears back and rush after the quarterback. Which as we’ve seen numerous times in 2019, it leads to sacks and creates turnovers for what has been a very opportunistic defense.

While they did struggle a bit against Detroit in that final game, as I pointed out, they’ve been much better as of late. And if that level of play can continue, it will go a long ways towards helping them make a run in the playoffs.

Which Aaron Rodgers will we see?

This is perhaps the question that is one everyone’s mind at the moment because despite some very average quarterback play from Aaron Rodgers this season, the Green Bay Packers still managed a 13-3 record. And if he can get hot, there’s no telling how far this team could go. However, that remains the million dollar question.

As I alluded to above, Rodgers’ overall numbers were very average this season, in fact, they were very similar to his numbers from 2018 with Mike McCarthy. We’ve also seen him struggle to jell with his receivers and he’s missed a number of throws that he usually makes, especially in recent weeks.

But with that said, he is still Aaron Rodgers and despite missing some routine throws this season, we’ve also seen him make some incredible ones, as well as lead some scoring drives in crucial moments of the game.

The beautiful thing about this year’s Packers team is that Rodgers doesn’t have to carry them to victory as he had done so often in previous seasons. Instead, they’ve had games that the defense has won for them and on offense, Green Bay is able to lean on Aaron Jones to shoulder some of that burden. However, even with all the changes that have taken place, the Green Bay Packers only go as far as Rodgers takes them.

Can they continue to find ways to win?

Although 13-3 and the NFC’s No.2 overall seed, there are many fans and media members who don’t buy into the 2019 Green Bay Packers because for the most part, their play really hasn’t been that pretty. I mean in the last two weeks alone, they had three turnovers in the first half against Minnesota and had to overcome a 14 point deficit against a three win Detroit team.

However, the important thing is, they find ways to win. Whether that be from a timely turnover, the relentless pass-rush, Rodgers connecting with Davante Adams or Aaron Jones putting the team on his back, the Green Bay Packers simply find ways to win.

But can they continue finding ways to win? Especially in the playoffs against the best teams in the NFC. This season the Green Bay Packers are 8-1 in one score games which from a statistical standpoint, just isn’t sustainable. And while we hope that the week comes when they put it all together, at this point that just isn’t very likely to happen. It’s January and they are who they are.

Next. Raven Greene Provides Boost for Run Defense. dark

Yet, I don’t think this Packers team really cares about winning pretty or winning ugly, they just care about winning. Which to their credit, they’ve clearly been fantastic at and they really are a resilient football team. But with the playoffs just about here, we will see if they can continue piling up the wins, despite not putting together the prettiest performances.