The Green Bay Packers did not win a single game in October. In three consecutive games, they lost to the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Minnesota Vikings. They lost a game in Pittsburgh despite moving the ball up and down the field all game. But something changed in that game. Jordan Love started to come alive.
Against the Steelers, Love made several big-time throws to give the Packers a chance to win the game. He wasn't perfect, but it was clear that his confidence in the offense was growing. The Packers would get a three-point win over the Los Angeles Chargers a week later. And then, they would upset the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.
That was considered the high point of the season — until Week 13.
Sunday Night Showdown
The Kansas City Chiefs were 6.5-point favorites on the road in Green Bay going into Sunday Night Football. Most national experts expected the Packers to keep things close but for the Chiefs to ultimately win in primetime.
Not only did the Packers win in Week 13, but Love outdueled Patrick Mahomes. And frankly, it wasn't that close. That obviously doesn't mean that Love is even in the stratosphere of Mahomes. But for one night, he was the better quarterback.
Love completed 25 of 36 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs. It was the second straight week that Love has thrown for 260+ yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The Packers scored 27 points against the Chiefs, the most they have allowed in a single game this season.
What Stands Out
The best part about Love’s game from Sunday night was his ability to sustain long drives. Mahomes and the Chiefs had just three drives in the first half, including a kneel-down with 0:09 left on the clock. Love kept the drives going and, in turn, kept Mahomes and their offense off the field. Eventually, the pace of play picked up in the fourth quarter, but not before the Packers were able to build up a lead.
This was easily the best performance of Love's career, as he was playing with confidence and swagger. He made several key throws that most quarterbacks wouldn't dare attempt. According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, Love had a career-high +14.7 EPA on Sunday against the Chiefs:
What Love is doing right now for the Packers isn’t a fluke. Over the last four games, Love is averaging 7.9 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 106.3. During that stretch, he’s thrown 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions, and the offense is finally clicking. And that is a scary sign for some of the other contenders in the NFC.
A Seat at the Table
As we stand right now, the Packers are 6-6 and would currently be the No. 7 seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today. That means they would see the San Francisco 49ers in Round 1, a team they have struggled to beat in the postseason over the last decade and a half. However, that doesn’t have to be their destination.
The Packers have the same record as the Vikings (6-6), who currently have the No. 6 seed. Right now, the Vikings would travel to Detroit to take on the Lions in Round 1 of the playoffs. Considering the success of the Packers against the Lions on Thanksgiving, that would be a much more favorable matchup for the Packers in the Wild Card weekend slate of games. But are we getting ahead of ourselves too much? Are the Packers even going to make the playoffs this year?
When you look at their remaining schedule, it’s hard to envision them not making the postseason.
|Mon. Dec. 11
|@ New York Giants
|Sun. Dec. 17
|vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Sun. Dec. 24
|@ Carolina Panthers
|Sun. Dec. 31
|@ Minnesota Vikings
|Sun. Jan. 7
|vs. Chicago Bears
According to the New York Times Playoff Simulator, the Packers had a 49 percent chance of making the postseason heading into Week 13. If they had lost to the Chiefs on Sunday, that number would have dropped to 41 percent. But after their upset win, they now sit at 65 percent. That is quite the change after just one win. However, even those odds seem low when you look at their remaining schedule.
Manageable Road Ahead
The Packers do not play another team that currently has a winning record. Their “toughest” game will be in Minnesota on New Year's Eve against Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. There is a legitimate chance the Packers could win out and finish the season with a record of 11-6.
They will be favored in every game going forward, outside of the game in Minnesota (and they might even be favored in that one). And if that is the case, they should be a lock to be the No. 6 seed and even have an outside chance of being the No. 5 seed if the Cowboys drop a few games.
Regardless of whether the Packers are the No. 5, No. 6, or No. 7 seed in the NFC, their season can already be deemed a success. And that's because Love has shown enough to move forward with him as a franchise quarterback. He's played enough good games that the Packers should do everything they can to put a good team around him.
In what was supposed to be a transition year, the Packers might already be better with Love than they were a year ago with Aaron Rodgers. Considering where this team was as they headed into November, that is quite the statement. Because once again, it looks like the Packers have hit on a franchise quarterback.