The Green Bay Packers came up just short against the Pittsburgh Steelers in what would have been a massive win for them on Sunday night. It was a disappointing loss, to say the least, and one that many think has taken them out of the NFC playoff chase.
While it certainly does hurt their playoff chances, they are far from being out of the playoff race. There are quite a few teams in the NFC that have issues of their own to deal with that are ahead of Green Bay in the standings.
Aaron Rodgers has a chance to come back as early as Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers, as 247 Sports noted. He has looked good in limited rehab practices and has said that he feels good as well. That being said, no tests have been done to see if the bone has healed in his collarbone.
If Rodgers is able to return, there are plenty of reasons to feel confident that the Packers are in the playoff race. Simply seeing the way that Green Bay hung with the red-hot Steelers last week was a positive sign. It has shown much-needed development in quite a few areas.
What reasons can be given to support the statement that the Green Bay Packers can still make the NFL playoffs this season, even after losing to Pittsburgh?
Brett Hundley Showed Major Improvement vs. Steelers
Even though he still did not look great, Hundley took a big leap forward in other ways in Week 12. He completed 17 of his 26 pass attempts for 245 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Green Bay has to feel a bit more confident in him heading into Week 13 than they did after last week’s embarrassing game against Baltimore.
Green Bay Could Still Get Rodgers Back in Time
Green Bay will have to win at least one of their two games before Rodgers could potentially make his return. If they can win both of those games, the Packers could very well be in great shape to make a run at the playoffs in the last three weeks. Rodgers returning late in the season to lead a playoff run has happened before and it could very well happen again.
Remaining Schedule Is Favorable
Looking at the rest of the Packers’ schedule, they have quite a few favorable matchup. They will face the Buccaneers, Browns, Panthers, Vikings, and Lions the remaining five games. Obviously, the last three games won’t be easy, but if Rodgers returns they are definitely winnable.
The Defense Is Making Plays
They still are not a “top” NFL defense, but they have been much better at making plays this season. That was the case once again against a very good Pittsburgh offense with three forced turnovers. Green Bay’s defense has been solid this season and that will help them in the last five weeks of the season.
Green Bay Finally Has a Dangerous Running Game
Don’t forget the Packers’ trio of running backs, who are all capable of having big games. Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery have dealt with injuries, but rookie Jamaal Williams has picked up the slack. No matter which running back Green Bay has on the field, they have gotten steady production from them.
Expect to see the Packers make a playoff push down the stretch this season. They may come up short, but they certainly are not done just yet.
[Featured Image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]