Usually at this time of year, all of us who follow the Packers are asking. "Do the Packers have enough defensively to make a 'Super' run?"
This year, as the defense has continued to improve since a poor three-game stretch at midseason (548 yards allowed vs. San Diego, 500 at Denver and 427 at Carolina), the usually potent Green Bay offense has struggled ranking 12th in the NFL in points (24.4), 18th in yardage (348.6) and 23rd in passing (227.8).
It is hard to believe that a Mike McCarthy-coached and Aaron Rodgers-quarterbacked offense is not in the top five in these categories as they have been for the past seven years.
It sounds and feels strange to say, but I don’t know if the Packers have enough going offensively to make that “Super” run in the postseason.
But let’s not get carried away. The Packers offense may not have big play artist Jordy Nelson, but it still has Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the business.
They have a one-two punch at running back that is potentially the envy of the league, an offensive line that when healthy is among the best in the league, and they’ve been there before.
I believe the Packers offense started to show signs of coming on last week against Dallas (28 points 435 yards of offense and 230 yards rushing). It will be interesting to see how they evolve down the stretch at Oakland, in Arizona and back home against Minnesota.
My guess is, the Packers offense, a pass-first, pass-dominant unit in the past will emerge from this season with more of a balanced run-to-pass ratio and production.
They may not be as explosive as Green Bay offenses in the recent past, but they can still be a very effective unit into January.
Defensively, are the Packers really as good as their recent numbers would indicate? To me, that is still the most pertinent question heading down the stretch.
The Packers have held three of their last five opponents to 20 points or less, and they held three of those five opponents under 300 yards, so they certainly are trending in the right direction.
But according to Pro Football Focus, the Packers have faced just two top-13 quarterbacks all season. Recently they have faced Matthew Stafford (20th passer rating), Teddy Bridgewater (26th) and Jay Cutler (17th), and none of the offenses those quarterbacks direct rank in the top twenty.
Between Detroit (22nd in yardage, 23rd in points), Minnesota (30th in yardage, 26th in points) and Chicago (17th in yardage and 22nd in points), obviously none of these offenses are upper echelon outfits.
Now, the Packers get Oakland (ranked 20th in yardage, 15th in points), but quarterback Derek Carr is 10th in passer rating (96.7), by far the best QB the Packers have seen since Cam Newton five games ago.
Next week, they get the top ranked offense in all of pro football at Arizona. The Cardinals are first in the league in yardage and second in points scored.
Furthermore, for those of you looking ahead, the Cardinals are also 4th defensively and 7th in points allowed.
But enough about the Cardinals. Trust me, the Raiders will be a significant test for the Packers defense this weekend. By the time they come home to face Minnesota on week 17, we will know all we need to know about the capability of the Packers defense in terms of making a “Super” run into January.