“I’d like to thank Justin Tucker off the top here for his performance last night” Aaron Rodgers
Those words uttered on ESPN Milwaukee today matched what all of Packer Nation (and Bears Nation for that matter) said last night when Justin Tucker connected on his 61 yard field goal to knock off the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. All Tucker’s kick did was give the Packers control of their own playoff destiny: win and your in. That’s it, 2 victories and the Packers will be hosting a playoff game during Wild Card Weekend. It’s easy to get excited (as we should be) but considering the ups and downs of this season, it seems surreal to be this close, but with 2 weeks to go, the Packers are. How did we get to this point? Let us do a fast recap!
As I wrote a few weeks back, the Packers had to go 4-0 this month to make any of this possible. Well, after the first 2 weeks of the December, the Packers are half way there with a 2-0 record (7-6-1 overall) thanks to 2 come from behind victories. Included in those 2 victories is the unbelievable 23 point come from behind victory in Jerry World, but we can talk about that at another time. Both of those victories came with Matt Flynn at the helm as Aaron Rodgers is still nursing his broken collarbone. There are still no guarantees as the Packers last 2 games of the season come against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home and a Week 17 date with the Chicago Bears in Chicago. If the Packers can finish 2-0, they will be playoff bound.
As the Packers are holding up their end of the bargain to this point, so are the Detroit Lions. As it was discussed before, the Packers needed some help from the Lions and they got just that! The Lions opened the month of December going 0-2 which is all the help the Packers needed. Not only did the Lions fall from 1st to 3rd, with a Packers and Bears win this weekend, the Lions are eliminated from playoff contention. After the 40-10 trouncing the Lions gave the Packers on Thanksgiving, it is hard to believe the Lions are on the brink of elimination. There are still scenarios where the Lions can win the division but they are now in the position of needing help for that to happen.
The other team that benefited from Justin Tucker’s booming field goal were the Chicago Bears as they also now control their own destiny. The Bears are also in a situation where if they win out, they are division champs. If the Bears can knock off the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and the Packers can get a victory, its all set up for a winner take all battle at Soldier Field on December 29th. As football rivals go, there would be nothing better.
In the upcoming days, there will be some clarity on whether Aaron Rodgers collarbone is strong enough for him to be cleared. Whether Randall Cobb’s leg is now healthy enough for him to be activated from the IR. Finally, we get to see how the Packers handle being able to control their own destiny. Last time turned out pretty good, will this year hold the same fate?