Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR
With the NFL season getting close to winding down, the hour glass is just as close to running out on the Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes. It’s become a suddenly disappointing season for a team that came into 2017 expecting again to be one of the NFC’s best.
Green Bay came dangerously close to providing the long anticipated Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rogers Super Bowl by making it to the NFC title game in January. Just over 10 months later you now have a team that’s about to spend half its season so far without its MVP in Rodgers, while Packer Nation nurses ongoing psychic wounds while watching backup quarterback Brett Hundley lead the team.
Hundley has earned an abysmal 1-3 record for Green Bay, not showing any of the continuous offensive spark against opponents that Rodgers provides just by stepping on the field. If not for meeting an abysmal Chicago Bears team earlier this month its likely Hundley wouldn’t have even one win under his belt.
Still, Hundley at least knows he can win as a starter, he and his team will need that confidence for a major test Sunday night, trying to pull off an upset over Pittsburgh in the Steel City.
Four out of the remaining six Packer games will be on the road with the last two being against the Vikings and the Lions, who they’d need to beat to have any chance at winning a tiebreaker against in case they’re up for the same playoff spot (likely a wild card).
According to Oddsshark, the Packers enter game as +14 underdogs. The Steelers, despite their current hot streak still have some flaws, they also have one less playmaker this week with exciting rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster classified as out for this game.
Pittsburgh still has Martavis Bryant and the game’s best reciever, Antonio Brown, in their reserves, but that doesnt mean that the Steelers will enact their regular air show tonight. Let’s go back in time to this past Sunday: the Green Bay pass defense for was able to hold Baltimore’s Joe Flacco under 200 yards passing on top of not allowing an 100-yard rusher. What bit the Pack in the end of their embarassing 23-0 loss to the Ravens, despite three sacks earned by the Packers defense, was that they lost the turnover battle with a -4 ratio.
The Packers may have to spend more time this week finding a way to contain Pittsburgh’s top back Le’Veon’s Bell, among the game’s best rushers as well as its top all-purpose backs. If they can keep the Steelers from dominating the clock with Bell another key will be to protect Hundley early and often.
This would be a huge task for the Packers as they have given up 36 sacks on the season, the second-most given up by any team in the NFL. Pittsburgh, by the way, features the 2nd best pass rush statistically in the League. Looking at all the factors entering this game it likely spells doom for the Packers, but there’s still some wiggle room for them to pull off the improbable!
It is indeed desperation time for Green Bay. Their current and franchise-best eight consecutive playoff appearances is in serious jeopardy.
Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio