A few weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers were 4-6, had just been blown out in back-to-back games and looked dead to rights in 2016.
Was Mike McCarthy going to be fired? Were the Packers going to reshuffle the front office? Was Aaron Rodgers’ abrasive personality — don’t believe the commercials — bringing down a team that had high expectations going into this season?
Were we seeing the end of the Packers’ greatness?
Those questions were fair game at the time — the 2016 Packers campaign was a mess, and they were going to need to pull off the seemingly impossible to salvage anything from it.
A window to the playoff was still there — the Vikings were collapsing, and Lions weren’t (and still aren’t) nearly as impressive as their record might indicate, and the Packers will play them in Week 17 at the end of a three-game NFC North stretch — but the Packers were going to have to do something special to come in the back door and win the NFC North.
Well, the Packers might be doing something special.
It started with Rodgers’ incredible performance against the Eagles on "Monday Night Football," then the Packers’ defense’s strong performance last week against the Texans.
And on Sunday, the most impressive performance yet — a blowout win over a Seahawks team that’s unquestionably one of the best in the NFL.
The Packers will need to keep up this pace the next two weeks, when they’ll play the Bears in Chicago and host the Vikings — two teams they should (but aren’t guaranteed) to beat.
They’ll also need some help — the Lions hold a two-game lead in the division, so if that Packers-Lions game in the final week of the season is to determine the division and a playoff spot, Detroit will need to drop a game between now and then.
Surely the Giants or Cowboys could help out the Packers with that need.
How have the Packers turned it around?
It starts with Rodgers and his exceptional play as of late, paired with a newfound semblance of a running game with wide receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery in then backfield and a wide receiving core that’s thriving in the space that’s being created by having one less defender in the defensive backfield.
The Packers’ defense has kicked up its play into another gear as well, despite being decimated — no hyperbole there — by injuries.
There are looming concerns, sure: Rodgers left Sunday’s blowout because of a right calf injury as much as the scoreline, and that defense is still paper-thin.
But the Packers, needing to win out, have so far gotten through the tough part of that stretch.
No one is calling for McCarthy’s job anymore.
No one thinks that Aaron Rodgers’ off-the-field life is a problem.
The Packers aren’t home yet — not by a long shot — but you have to believe now that they might just be able to pull it off.