By GERY WOELFEL
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any NFL fan why the Green Bay Packers still have a glimmer of hope of making the playoffs.
It’s because their offense isn’t as offensive as it was for the vast majority of the season.
After consistently spinning their wheels through most of their first nine games and posting a pathetic 3-6 record, the Packers’ offense has picked it up considerably in the last four games.
Thanks in large part to the sterling play of rookie receiver Christian Watson, the Packers scored at least 27 points in three of their last four outings and won two of them. That included a 33-point showing against the Philadelphia Eagles, clearly the best team in the NFC.
If the 5-8 Packers are going to have any chance of advancing to the playoffs for the fourth straight season, their offense will have to stay on track.
And that’s seems highly possible, especially considering the Packer’ four remaining regular-season games are against teams with suspect to horrendous defenses, starting tonight when they host the Los Angeles Rams at historic Lambeau Field.
The Rams rank a mediocre 13th in total defense,, having allowed 330.5 yards per game. They rank 17th in points allowed per game at 22.8.
The three other teams on the Packers’ schedule – Miami, Minnesota and Detroit – are even worse than the Rams defensively.
Miami ranks 23rd in total defense, while Detroit and Minnesota have the league’s two worst defenses and are ranked 31st and 32nd, respectively.
Because of their early season failures, the Packers are still in a Grand Canyon size hole. They have little, if any, room for error for making the playoffs and can ill afford to lose to the Rams, the reigning Super Bowl champions who are 4-9 and have had an even more disastrous season than the Packers.
Prediction: Packers 27, Rams 20.
Here are the schedules for the Packers and the teams they are vying for an NFC wild-card spot:
GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-8)
Dec. 19 – Los Angeles Rams (4-9)
Dec. 25 – At Miami (8-6)
Jan. 1 – Minnesota (11-3)
Jan. 8 – Detroit (7-7)
NEW YORK GIANTS (8-5-1)
Dec. 24 – At Minnesota (11-3)
Jan. 1 – Indianapolis (4-9-1)
Jan. 8 – At Philadelphia (13-1)
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (7-6-1)
Dec. 24 – At San Francisco (10-4)
Jan. 1 – Cleveland (6-8)
Jan. 8 – Dallas (10-4)
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-7)
Dec. 24 – At Kansas City (11-3)
Jan. 1 – New York Jets (7-7)
Jan. 8 – Los Angeles Rams (4-9)
DETROIT LIONS (7-7)
Dec. 24 – At Carolina (5-9)
Jan. 1 – Chicago (3-11)
Jan. 8 – at Green Bay (5-8)
CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-9)
Dec. 24 – Detroit (7-7)
Jan. 1 – at Tampa Bay (6-8)
Jan. 8 – at New Orleans (5-9)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-9)
Dec. 24 – At Cleveland (6-8)
Jan. 1 – At Philadelphia (13-1)
Jan. 8 – Carolina (5-9)
ATLANTA FALCONS (5-9)
Dec. 24 – At Baltimore (9-5)
Jan. 1 – Arizona (4-10)
Jan. 8 – Tampa Bay (6-8)