With half of the 2009 NFL season yet to play, it might appear a bit premature to pronounce the playoff slate in the NFC etched in stone, but the Conference is clearly evidencing signs of supporting such a call. And, with yesterday's ten-point defeat at the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Green Bay Packers strongly hinted that they are not part of that playoff conversation.
With their loss to Tampa Bay, the Packers fell to 4-4 on the season and essentially four games out of the lead in the NFC North; not even the mysticism of a three-way tie-breaker would save the Packers in their pursuit of the division title.
Outside the division, things appear equally grim for the Pack. Although, contrary to the programmed responses of FOX commentators, the Packers have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL, their opponents are not exactly cowering in fear at the prospect of facing the Packers--a lack of respect that rightfully stems from the Packers' atrocious offensive line, poor coaching, and paper defense.
Through eight games, the Packers have surrendered an astounding 37 sacks--seven more than the second worst tally of 30 by Kansas City and 30 more than Indianapolis. That figure includes six by the Bucs, who, heading into the game, had 11 sacks for the entire season. That's atrocious, but not nearly as atrocious as the Packers' 3-4 defense.
On the season, the Packers' defense has recorded a paltry 13 sacks, compared to 31 for league-leading Minnesota. That lack of pressure has allowed opponents to score 16 touchdowns--good for third-most in the league.
Add to the Packers' own woes, the quickly evolving cleavage of haves and have nots in the NFC, and it is difficult to see much reason for optimism for the Packers in 2009. With the Vikings all but sewing up the NFC North, the Packers are left to battle for a wild-card spot with teams that appear far better suited for prevailing in such a battle. With their four wins coming against Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, and Chicago--teams with a combined 7-25 record and losses to the only teams that they have faced with winning records--the Packers appear better equipped to play against the second-division of the NFL this season than than to compete with the first-division. Unfortunately for the Packers, their primary wild-card rivals--Atlanta, New York, Dallas, and Philadelphia--have shown far more promise.
Up Next: Some Coaches Already Packing Their Bags. Plus, should Vikings' fans expect AP to dominate in 2009?