Can the Packers make the playoffs without future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers?
This will be easier to answer after watching Brett Hundley today. He struggled last week, but that was an impossible situation. Not only are the Vikings an outstanding defense – especially at home – but the Packers played most of the second half without David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor and Bryan Bulaga. So let’s see how the former UCLA star looks behind a healthier offensive line and against a much less formidable defense.
To make the playoffs yet again, the Packers will probably have to go 6-4 in their remaining 10 games. That seems like a lot to ask, but the schedule at least makes it somewhat feasible. After the bye, Green Bay plays division games versus Detroit (home and away), Chicago (away) and Minnesota (home). Other opponents are Baltimore (home), Pittsburgh (away), Tampa (home), Cleveland (away) and Carolina (away). And while no games will be easy without Rodgers, finding six wins against that schedule isn’t an impossible task.
Of course, it will all come down to how Hundley plays. He doesn’t have to be great, he just has to be good. And he needs to be available. The Packers have no chance to win a game with Joe Callahan, In fact, they’d be hard-pressed to score a touchdown with the undersized and weak-armed former Division III star at QB.
If I had to predict right now whether or not Green Bay will make the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year, I’d have to say no. Winning six games, even against a relatively soft schedule, is a lot to ask of an inexperienced quarterback who threw all of 10 passes prior to last week. But my biggest reason to doubt another trip to the playoffs has nothing to do with Hundley. It has to do with a Dom Capers-led defense that hasn’t been good for years and now won’t have the incomparable Rodgers around to bail it out on a weekly basis.
The pick: I really want to go with the Packers today, but the Drew Brees vs. Capers matchup is keeping me from pulling the trigger. So is the state of the secondary. Starting cornerback Davon House is questionable and Morgan Burnett, who’s been the defense’s best player for the past 20 games, is out with a hamstring injury.
Would a win shock me? No. Don’t ever underestimate what motivation can mean, and you can bet the Packers will be very motivated to prove they’re not a one-man team. But in the end, I just don’t see the “D” getting enough stops to make Hundley’s first start a successful one. NEW ORLEANS 33-24 (Season record: 3-3)