The Green Bay Packers enter their regular-season finale in a familiar situation.
For a second straight season, a lopsided victory over the Minnesota Vikings in their second-to-last game has put the Packers in position to reach the playoffs by defeating an NFC North team at home.They’re hoping the similarities end there.
Green Bay blew a chance to earn a fourth straight postseason berth last season when its four-game winning streak ended with a 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions that was four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ last game with the Packers.The Packers (8-8) have overhauled their roster in the year since, but they still have plenty of players who experienced that heartbreaking finish. It remains very much on their minds as they prepare to host the Chicago Bears (7-9) on Sunday. “We know what it felt like last year to come up short,” Packers running back Aaron Jones said after Green Bay’s 33-10 victory Sunday night at Minnesota. “It was one of the worst feelings. You’re right there and you lose to a team who can’t get into a playoffs. So we’re not going to let that happen again.”The Packers have a remote chance of reaching the playoffs even if they lose to Chicago.
Disappointing finales at Lambeau Field have become all too common the past few years. The Packers have ended each of their past three seasons by losing at home. They fell to Tampa Bay in the 2020 NFC championship game and lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 divisional playoffs on a field goal as time expired before coming up short against the Lions last season.
Of course, most of Green Bay’s current players weren’t around for either of those playoff losses. Many of them weren’t even major contributors last season.The Packers have won six of their past nine games, including two straight. In his first year as a starter, Jordan Love has been one of the league’s hottest quarterbacks the second half of the season. They already beat the Bears 38-20 at Chicago on the season’s opening Sunday. Then again, Green Bay also entered last season’s finale on a roll with four consecutive victories. The Packers understand all too well there are no guarantees at this time of the season. “I think Chicago is as improved as any team when you look at them from Week 1 to where they are now,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “Obviously they’ve done a really, really good job the last few weeks in particular, kind of gottenThe Packers have had two of their three highest-point totals of the season over the past two weeks, as the latest win followed a 33-30 victory at Carolina. The Packers had their highest scoring output since their season-opening win at Chicago. … The defense bounced back from three straight poor performances by getting four sacks and allowing just one touchdown, on a drive that began at the Green Bay 7-yard line.Green Bay continues to make mistakes on special teams. The Packers missed an extra-point attempt, and a fumbled punt set up Minnesota’s lone touchdown.