However, Green Bay is just a game out of the final wild-card spot in the NFC with seven games to play. Of course, in order to get to that spot, the Packers will need to play exceptional football for the rest of the season.
“The rest of the season” begins Thursday when they will take on the Lions on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2013. The last time the two teams met this season was in Week 4, also on a Thursday night, and it was a forgettable game for Green Bay.
The Week 4 loss to Detroit at Lambeau Field saw the Packers gain just 27 rushing yards on 12 attempts as they were effectively blown out 34-20 after trailing 27-3 at halftime. In that game, Packers quarterback Jordan Love completed 23 of 36 passes for 246 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
The loss also kicked off a four-game losing streak that saw Love and the rest of Green Bay’s offense struggle to find any kind of consistency, especially in the first half. For a while, many wondered aloud if Love was really the franchise quarterback the Packers envisioned when they drafted him.
But over the last three games, even the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Love and the offense have started to figure it out, leading Lions head coach Dan Campbell to say some highly flattering things about Green Bay’s young quarterback ahead of their Week 12 Thanksgiving matchup.
In an interview with Michigan Live, Campbell spoke about how much Love and the Packers offense has improved since the last time the Lions faced them:
“I just think he’s connecting on some of these throws, man. I feel like he’s always been pretty poised, really. Some of these connections haven’t, they haven’t been able to connect on some of the critical moments. I feel like he’s making those.
“He looks pretty composed. He’s certainly athletic enough. He’s got big-arm talent.”
It is very easy to see from the last three games that Love and the offense are starting to find their groove. Sure, they are far from perfect, but they are connecting on more big-time throws and are genuinely fun to watch.
Love and the passing game will certainly be the focal point of the Packers’ offense on Thanksgiving. This is because Aaron Jones and Emanuel Wilson are both unlikely to play due to injuries suffered in Green Bay’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers.
To make up for their loss, the Packers signed James Robinson to their practice squad and Patrick Taylor to their active roster. Both running backs had previous stints with the Packers earlier this season.
Despite their precarious running back situation, Campbell expects Green Bay to try and establish the run early:
“I think they’re still going to want to — I think for the most part, they’re no different than everybody else. They have these principles with what they do in the run game, and to play pass off of it to boot off of it. And even if it keeps you honest, they’re going to want to do some of that.
“We got to play this top down, we can’t give up any of these chunk plays, because they are having some success with those.”
Not having Jones especially will be a serious blow for the Packers, but they still need to establish the run in order to make Love and the passing game more effective. Dillon has been playing very well as of late, though the offensive line continues to struggle in run blocking.
And that is where the the game on Thanksgiving will be won or lost: in the trenches. Love and the running backs cannot do their jobs well if the offensive line plays like it did in Week 4, a game that saw Love sacked five times.
Love and the offense have been playing better, and the Lions know it; but they are going to be ready. The Packers’ offensive line needs to be ready, too.