Two weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers sat at 5-6 with a minuscule chance at making the postseason. After two thrilling overtime wins that pushed their record to 7-6, however, the Packers have life. With Aaron Rodgers set to return this week following an eight week recovery from a broken collarbone, the Packers will head to Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers in another must-win game to keep their season alive. The game be a tough challenge, but anything is possible with Rodgers under center. Here are three Packers Keys To Victory for Green Bay to keep their season alive.
Week 15 Green Bay Packers Keys To Victory
1- Re-establish Rhythm In The Passing Game
Aaron Rodgers hasn’t seen a football field in two months, and only recently has he begun to throw the football. He’ll have a week of practice to get back up to par with his receivers and re-establish the timing routes that Green Bay so famously runs. But practice and the actual game are two very different things. He’ll have to re-establish these connections on the fly against a tough Panthers defense that allows just 213 passing yards a game and ranks among the top defenses in the NFL.
Short, quick timing routes to Davante Adams and Randall Cobb will be most helpful early in the game as they give Rodgers easy throws and allow Adams and Cobb to make some plays in the open field. As Rodgers settles in, the Packers can expand the field and send Jordy Nelson and Adams on deeper routes that spread the defense out. Don’t be surprised if Rodgers misses a throw or two early on, but have confidence that the offense will find its rhythm at some point.
2- Bend, Don’t Break Defense
This Packers defense has not been the most reliable unit this season. Even when Rodgers was under center, they often found ways to dig Green Bay big holes. That being said, the Packers have a talented enough defense to create timely turnovers and prevent the game from getting too out of hand. They must do both of those and more against the Carolina offense, led by former NFL MVP Cam Newton. Newton has quite the offensive firepower surrounding him, with dynamic running backs such as Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield and a reliable target in Devin Funchess.
The Carolina offense making plays and Newton is putting up solid numbers is a give, at the least. But the Packers can limit the scoring by hunkering down in the red zone and forcing field goals, creating turnovers to give the offense a short field, and doing just enough to keep Rodgers in control of the game.
3- Time Of Possession Matters
As stated earlier, the weak link of this Packers team is the defense. They need to do their part in order to win, but limiting their time on the field and maximizing the time the Green Bay offense is on the field is going to be key in order for the Packers to win this game. The Packers aren’t going to win the game if Carolina continues to convert third downs and stays on the field while the Packer offense watches from the sideline. Putting together long, drawn-out drives that take time off the clock and score points will be huge for the Packers if they hope to win.
The running back duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will be instrumental in achieving this, as they’ve helped carry the Packers in the absence of Rodgers. Getting the running backs going will also take pressure off of Rodgers, who hasn’t seen action in two months and probably won’t be there to save the day if he doesn’t get help from other playmakers on the team.
Overall, the Packers without Rodgers probably wouldn’t stand a chance to win this game. Even if Rodgers doesn’t put on a show, his mere presence elevates this team to new heights and gives a massive confidence boost. The road to the playoffs and beyond is tough, but the Packers have the pieces to pull an upset in Carolina and keep hope alive.