It feels like the playoffs came out of nowhere for the Green Bay Packers. Just a month ago, they had lost their fourth straight game and sat at 2-5 with eyes on a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Following back-to-back wins and three victories in their last four games, they’re suddenly a half-game out of the final Wild Card spot in the NFC.
That amazing turnaround is excellent to see. What’s even better is watching their young core improve game in and game out. That’s what the 2023 NFL season is really about–improvement from their young core.
With that being said, the Packers can accomplish both tasks. They can simultaneously build for the future while also sneaking into the playoffs this season. To do that, these five players need to lead them there.
With the playoffs suddenly attainable, here are five players on the Green Bay Packers who can lead them there this season.
Packers Who Can Lead Them to the Playoffs: Carrington Valentine
The Packers will see some excellent wide receivers down the stretch–Mike Evans, Justin Jefferson and D.J. Moore are just a few. If they want to slow down opposing offenses, they’ll need a cornerback to slow down those elite receivers. Who knows what’s happening with Jaire Alexander’s injuries and when Eric Stokes will return. That leaves it all up to Carrington Valentine, the rookie who has been playing well since entering the starting lineup.
Packers Who Can Lead Them to the Playoffs: AJ Dillon
Green Bay will need to run the ball to keep defenses honest for the following two players on this list. Aaron Jones would typically fall into this spot, but he’s also out with an injury. Dillon has been better over the last month, but still lacks the slipperiness or power to break tackles consistently. Green Bay needs him to take it up another level and punish defenses for selling out to stop the pass.
Packers Who Can Lead Them to the Playoffs: Christian Watson
We saw the impact Christian Watson could have on an offense when he went off with five receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. He aggressively caught a bomb on the first play, making the game easier for his quarterback and teammates. That version of Watson needs to show up week in and week out.
Packers Who Can Lead Them to the Playoffs: Jordan Love
The NFL is a passing game, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Packers’ passer on this list. Love has been better over the last three games and needs to continue that upward trajectory. We’ve seen quarterbacks get hot and lead their team to deep postseason runs in the past. Love may not be at that point, but the Packers want to see him continue to grow and develop.
Packers Who Can Lead Them to the Playoffs: Rashan Gary
We’ve also seen teams make runs to the postseason based on their ability to disrupt the opposing team’s passer. The best way to do that is to make them uncomfortable in the pocket by consistently pressuring them. Rashan Gary hasn’t been as good as he hoped coming off a torn ACL, but he did accrue three sacks against the Lions. He has the potential to be a game-wrecker and the Packers need more performances like that.