Once Week 12 rolled around, the Packers were 4-6. They needed to win the last six games of the season to win the NFC North and try their hand in the playoffs. Every game was a must-win, including Week 12’s matchup in Philly against the Eagles. I didn’t know if they could do it, but Rodgers’ little “run the table” comment gave me some hope.

Herein begins… the table run. (Insert dramatic music here.) And guys… our first drive ended in a touchdown, a 12-yard pass to Davante Adams. Holy crap. We were leading. Oh my god. Stay calm. Okay. Holy crap.

AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE SECOND TOUCHDOWN?!?!?! A 20 yard pass from Rodgers, to Davante Adams, who somehow came down with it while he was heavily covered. I’ve said a lot of things about Davante Adams over the years, but that catch was unreal, along with the rest of his play in this game. Overall, the offense really meshed today. Rodgers was on fire, throwing for 313 yards and rushing for a couple as well.

The one offensive moment that scared the daylight out of me was when Rodgers tweaked his hamstring. Naturally, I began to freak the hell out… until I saw Rodgers enter The Injury Tent. This became somewhat of a meme on Twitter in the moments after he went in. What’s the tent for? we all asked. Where is he GOING?! Turns out, they have these little privacy tents for if a player needs to take their pants off to get a muscle worked on by the trainers. Fun fact.

Defensively, we held it together, though it was pretty much a hot mess in the second half. Again, the secondary was slow, and the defense as a whole began to be riddled with injuries. At one point, we kept losing linebackers and boy, was I a mess at that. I believe this was the first game that we’d put Morgan Burnett in at ILB, which low key terrified me a little bit.

The Pack won over the Eagles 27-13 and kept hope alive for one more game. Sounds stupid, but it was the first time I’d felt genuinely happy after a game in a loooong time. Next week, the Packers take on the Houston Texans. The table running continues!

You know this is going to be a fun blog post when that’s the first tweet, huh? In Week 11, the Packers faced off against Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. And man, was it one ugly loss, 42-24.

I knew it wasn’t going to be fun watching the defense this week, but it was especially heart-wrenching in this game. Things just looked terrible. The secondary was slow as hell and couldn’t cover worth a damn. Pass rush and run defense were nearly nonexistent. Injuries plagued the defensive guys, including a horrific leg injury to Demetri Goodson that I luckily didn’t see (and do not plan on ever willingly looking at).

Offensively, things were slightly better, but not by much. Jared Cook made his return from an ankle injury earlier in the season, and he had an average game with 6 receptions for 105 yards. James Starks had a great 31-yard TD run, which at this point, was our longest TD of the season. (Woof.) Aaron Rodgers threw for 3 TDs and 351 yards, and weirdly enough, again had the most rushing yards in this game. Those were just the bright spots – there were still some boneheaded timeouts, bad coaching decisions, and costly drops. Mason Crosby missed a 36-yard field goal, which just didn’t help at all.

I almost couldn’t make it through this game. It was just so bad on both sides of the ball. So here, have an assortment of social media posts that perfectly describe the existential despair I felt while watching this horrid showing.

Yeah. Even Skip Bayless, noted Packers hater and general airhead, is confused about this crap. I don’t even know. The post-game press conference again included such buzzwords as “difficult loss” and “we knew we needed to perform better”, which just enraged me even further.

Week 12 approached, and I had no idea what was going to happen. At this point, we were no longer in control of our own destiny for the playoff picture. We were now two games back in the NFC North. The Vikings had the tiebreaker. The Wild Card game looked like a pipe dream. However, Aaron Rodgers, in an effort to placate the fans, said the following in a press conference later in the week.

Maybe a snappy catchphrase from QB1 was just what the Packers needed to get themselves back in gear. . .

Look, I know this is an academic blog and I said there would be little profanity on here, but this Reddit post just about sums up how Packers fans were feeling after the team’s 47-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10.

Shit-canned. By the freakin’ Titans. That’s about right.

The offensive struggles continued in this game. Rodgers continued to just not look like himself. He threw two picks and two TDs, the first of which only came five minutes into the second quarter, after the Titans had already put up 21 points. He also rushed for a TD and actually had more rushing yards than Ty Montgomery and James Starks. Whaaaaat?

Yep. Not happy. At all.

Receiver-wise, we did alright, with Nelson and Adams getting the majority of the targets. The line also drew a bunch of dumb penalties, which nearly drove me insane. Seriously – I had gone to the Culvers drive-thru in the middle of the game. I was listening on the radio, and I straight up yelled at the top of my lungs in my car because we’d just picked up our third or so straight holding penalty.

Same.

Again, defensively, another huge off day. The secondary continued to struggle – Quinten Rollins straight up just gave up on covering DeMarco Murray on his 75-yard TD run early on. Our pass rush couldn’t even do anything against some of the Titans’ second-string o-linemen. Injuries didn’t help on this front – Ladarius Gunter, Micah Hyde, and Jake Ryan all were injured at various points during the game.

So, yep. Another loss, and another week of me drastically lowering my expectations. Players failing to execute, constant injuries, and abhorrent coaching from Mike McCarthy. Shit-canned, indeed.

At this point, the Pack are 4-5 and looking for a win against the Washington Redskins. Let’s take a sneak peek at that, shall we?

Great.

Week 9! The losing streak continued with a visit to Indy to take on the Colts. And I could tell this game would be a rollercoaster ride after the very first play of the game was a 99-yard kickoff return by the Colts’ Jordan Todman. (I had to be at work for about the first half of the game. The symphonic wind ensemble was a bit confused when I, the stagehand for their rehearsal, whimpered “you’ve GOT to be kidding me” at her phone when that happened.)

So the Colts jumped out to an early lead, and they kept that lead the entire game, eventually besting the Packers 31-26. This was another one of those games where I think we could have pulled it out, had we had healthy guys out there making plays. A couple of elements really stood out to me when I got to watch the game in full.

First, the offense got a little weird again. Rodgers, though he threw for 297 yards and 3 TDs, missed some throws that he’d normally make in his sleep. Jeff Janis got some snaps, but dropped what would have been a crazy 50-yard pass. The one thing I loved offensively from this game was this insane touchdown pass from Jordy Nelson.

On a free play!!! I LOVE THAT CRAP!

Defensively… yeahhhh. I wasn’t very happy with it. We couldn’t put pressure on Andrew Luck, even against Indy’s less than stellar offensive line. The secondary gave up some big plays, failing to cover Indy’s receivers well at all. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had two great interceptions, but other than that, the defense was nothing special.

Ugh.

At this point, I started to just not know how to feel about the team. The loss left us in third place in the NFC North. One aspect of the team looks great one game, the next it sucks. Nobody knew what was wrong. I, personally, was starting to lose my passion for football. The next few weeks would accelerate that feeling for me and many others, especially in next week’s matchup against the Titans.

Lastly, though, to leave this blog on a high note: SQUIRREL IN THE END ZOOOONE!

via GIPHY

The Packers took on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8, in a 33-32 loss by one point that I, surprisingly, was not too mad about due to the fact that the team actually looked pretty darn good. Although, going into it, I was pretty scared because, you know, the injuries were piling the hell up.

(Gotta love how the above post has a “read more” because the list got so long. Ha. Hahaha. Injuries SUCK.)

In general, our offense looked more relaxed and confident in itself. The game was truly an offensive shootout, with both teams scoring at least four touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan dueled it out, with both QBs throwing for over 200 yards. (Rodgers also had 60 rushing yards, because we had no running backs at that point, and that’s just how this ridiculous season played out.) Insane catches from Jordy Nelson, Trevor Davis, and Geronimo Allison made our offensive possessions spectacular.

One of the best football names of all time, honestly.

Defensively, I was actually super impressed with how we did. Yes, we didn’t have a bunch of defensive players due to injury, but we held it together. The secondary could have done a bit better, had they had healthy guys available, but as this Reddit post said…

Yeah. Sounds a little melodramatic, but that’s really how it was. I really think we could have pulled a win out if we just had more healthy personnel. That’s why I was completely okay with this loss. We looked GOOD for a gimpy team, so what’s one extra L on the record?

But oh, how the tables will turn in the coming weeks. Next time, we look at our showing versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Well, it took us a while, but we finally got to a Bears game! The best rivalry in sports! I’ve always found Packers/Bears games interesting, especially going to a school where there are a good amount of Bears fans alongside the majority of Packer fans. I love the good-natured ribbing that happens between us students on Packers/Bears gamedays. (My roommate, from Illinois, never really paid attention to football before she moved in with my sister and I. We’ve now converted her to Packer fandom. Her parents aren’t too happy about it.)

Even though this rivalry usually gives us some great games, this one was a bit of a dud, in the first half at least. Even against a mediocre Bears team, my expectations were lowered when Ty Montgomery fumbled the Pack’s first punt return.

Yeah.

The first half was relatively uneventful. Other than two field goals from Mason Crosby, there were no other scores from the Packers, and overall things didn’t look very good to me at all. Rodgers was still missing some throws, although this week was slightly better than last. It seemed as if we were barely moving the ball, and when we were…

I was grateful for the second half, because that’s when things got interesting. The Packers’ first TD came on a drive with an AWESOME run from Ty Montgomery. The TD on that drive came from Davante Adams, who did a great job getting open the entire game.

via GIPHY

Two more touchdowns came in the second half, and the Packers took the Bears down 26-10. Of note to me in this game was the amount of injuries. Our running back corps was nearly depleted – Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and Don Jackson were all unable to play, leaving much of the snaps to Ty Montgomery. On the Bears’ side, quarterback Brian Hoyer ended up breaking his arm, which I hardcore cringed at when I saw it happen. Lastly, the defense appeared to mostly hold it together in this matchup. Receivers were covered well by our secondary, and we had two picks from Blake Martinez and Nick Perry.

Overall… well, out of all the football games I’ve seen, that was one of them. Next week, all cautious optimism goes straight out the door. We play the Falcons, and The Losing Streak begins.

Ah, yes… the Dallas Cowboys. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were on fire for this Cowboys team, and it was likely to cause us some problems. Going into this game, I was extremely nervous… and boy, were those nerves justified. The Packers fell to the Cowboys 30-16 this week, and there were a couple big reasons why. But first, I wanna talk about what I liked, because no one likes starting off on a bad note.

First off, our o-line looked pretty darn great and Rodgers was hardly touched. Ty Montgomery racked up some receiving yards and generally looked great for the offense. Oh, and EDDIE FREAKING LACY over here, hurdling people left and right. Seriously. Dude jumped clear over four grown adult men in this game.

Now for the not-so-good stuff.

Our run defense wasn’t very good. They allowed Dallas 6 yards per carry on average. I still can’t help but wonder how much of that was due to Ezekiel Elliott’s insane talent, or how much of it was due to our half-injured defense. Our corners got absolutely burned multiple times, including Ladarius Gunter giving up a TD. Injuries piled up in this game as well – Bryan Bulaga, Davante Adams, Blake Martinez, and Damarious Randall all got banged up in some way.

There was one absolutely infuriating moment for me, personally. It was first and goal at the 1 yard line. No huddle, shotgun formation. No running backs. Rodgers went for the QB sneak, got pushed back 3 yards, fumbled the ball, and Dallas recovered. Cue me, going absolutely insane.

(I tweeted MANY more times about this, but they contain multiple F-bombs and are not suitable for an educational blog. Whoops.)

The rest of the game, I basically sat in my living room and either screamed at my TV angrily or sighed loudly. The postgame press conference was filled with Mike McCarthy buzzwords like “we just need to execute” and “work on fundamentals”, and fans were getting mad about the lack of accountability. Dallas was a really good team this season, and we looked really bad against them. So this loss was a bit deserved.

Next week the Packers take on everyone’s favorite rivals from down south, the Bears!

The bye week came and went… now it’s time for Week 5! This week, the Packers took on the New York Giants in primetime. And I’m just going to admit to you right now, I didn’t watch half of this game because a presidential debate was on at the same time.

…Look, it was after Trump made the whole grab-them-by-the-you-know-what comments, and I wanted to see what would happen!

Thank goodness social media came through where television couldn’t, though. I still had many thoughts about this game in hindsight.

The offense was pretty choppy in this game. There were some great moments, including a few great runs from fan favorite Aaron Ripkowski and notorious beast Eddie Lacy. However, the chemistry between Aaron Rodgers and his receivers just wasn’t there for most of the game. He was whiffing throws that he’d normally nail, including this one to Davante Adams. Jordy Nelson caught four passes in the game, but dropped three. Rodgers also threw two picks, which was very out of character for him.

Ugh. :(

On the defensive side of things… holy crap! We actually improved! And to think I was ripping on them last week.

Our pass defense held the Giants to just under 200 passing yards and were able to contain Odell Beckham Jr, which I had been especially worried about. I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased with how our secondary held it together after their embarrassing showing against Detroit.

Oh, and this rookie duo fumble, forced by Kyler Fackrell and recovered by Kenny Clark:

That was pretty darn cool, too.

Lastly, special teams was pretty sucky. Mason Crosby held it together, going 3/3 on field goals, which is great. But we got a bunch of silly penalties on kickoffs and punts that killed our field position.

We won this game 23-16, but it was evident that we still had lots to work on if we were going to do anything worthwhile this season. Next week: Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Oh… boy. Here we go.

Lastly, I will leave you with this: in the Giants’ previous game, Odell Beckham Jr was mad about something, so he punched the kicking net. This week, after he made another ridiculous catch, he apologized to the kicking net by hugging it. Awww. How cute.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, because OH MAN. This game was great. At least, the first half was.

In general, I was ecstatic for that entire first half. This team looked amazing. Rodgers looked like he’d gotten his groove back, throwing for 205 yards and 4 touchdowns. The defense was actually holding it together. The receivers were getting open, we actually looked good on run plays, we were running SLANT ROUTES… I was giddy.

I’m going to depart from my usual play-by-play recap of this game, because there was almost too much to keep up with. But I will offer my thoughts on the game overall!

First, I was completely in love with our first half offense, as stated above. After feeling uneasy about many aspects of this team, I got to rest easy for a half, knowing our offense went ham against the Lions. Jordy was looking pretty up to speed, as well.

Our secondary was iffy this entire game, especially in the second half. Matt Stafford converted nearly every third down while our defense was on the field. The secondary was downright painful to watch, especially Damarious Randall, who had a penchant for getting smoked by Detroit WR Marvin Jones. This post pretty much sums it up for me:

(Oh, the conclusions I jumped to while watching this game. There was lots of cussing and screaming about Randall.)

Although, no matter how disappointed I was in the defense, Randall did have this pretty cool interception:

Lastly, I was definitely disappointed with the playcalling and execution in the second half. It could be argued that coach Mike McCarthy let his foot off the gas, as he is wont to do, but I think it was a mixture of that and the team just not executing. There were lots of dropped passes and failed run plays that didn’t get us where we needed to be, and that was something I was very unhappy with. The Lions should never have put up that many more points, and come so close to winning toward the end of the game.

Just another thing for the Packers to work on in the week 4 bye! An uncharacteristically early break, but well-timed for an injury-riddled and burnt-out team. Week 5 brings us to the Giants!

Week 2. Sunday Night Football. Packers vs Vikings, in the Vikings’ new stadium. The hype was real, but for me, the fear was even real-er.

I had been very worried about the Vikings from the start. The Vikings’ offense in general was going to be a challenge for our defense to handle, even with Minnesota quarterback-for-only-12-days Sam Bradford. Either way, I was probably more excited for this game than for Week 1, surprisingly.

My worry (and anger) flared up in the first half. Davante Adams did have some trouble catching passes, and did fumble at one point, which made me quite angry because Davante, I thought we were OVER THIS. Even Packers HOF safety LeRoy Butler had some choice words about Adams’ catching issues.

LeRoy Butler, with NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE.

On the next Packers drive, though, Eddie Lacy saw a lot of action. He had a couple great runs that got us up to the red zone. And then Jordy! The comeback kid completed a one-yard pass into the end zone for the first touchdown ever scored in the Vikings’ new stadium.

At least we have that.

The Vikings answered with a eight-yard Kyle Rudolph touchdown and a 46-yard Blair Walsh field goal, bringing the score to 10-7 Minnesota at the half. In the second half, McCarthy chose to run James Starks up the gut on a 4th and 2… and we ended up turning over on downs. The Internet at large ended up raging at that decision, rather than just taking the field goal.

(I have more words I could write about that play, but they are not suitable for an academic blog.)

Minnesota had ANOTHER TD, but on the next drive, the Packers answered with a TD of their own… after a sack, a handful of incomplete passes, and crappy runs from Starks. In the end, Aaron Rodgers just did it himself and ran in the TD from 10 yards out. At the two-minute warning, Rodgers threw a pick to Minnesota’s Trae Waynes, and that’s where the Packers ended it, losing 17-14.

Needless to say, I was NOT happy with how this game went. My biggest concern was with Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy. He missed TONS of throws in this game, and he went down a lot as well. Last week’s praise of Damarious Randall went away; he let Stefon Diggs completely torch him. Our pass rush looked pretty good, and players like rookie Kenny Clark stepped up in their defensive roles. The 4th and 1 play call completely baffled me as well. I began to realize that this season may not live up to the offseason hype.

Next week, Green Bay takes on Detroit!