At the mid-point of the 2018 season, the Green Bay Packers sub-.500 record and third-place status in the NFC North is surprising.
At the start of summer camp, several national prognosticators had Green Bay as a trendy Super Bowl pick and a sure-fire NFC title contender.
What a difference three months can make.
After dropping their last two games to NFL powers New England and the Los Angeles Rams with crucial fourth-quarter fumbles, the Packers face the formidable task of finishing the second half of the season 6-2 or 7-1 to have a shot at post-season play.
“Those are two of the best teams in football—the Rams and Patriots are going to be playing in late January,” said Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach. “The Packers have to eliminate those fumbles at crucial times. Just one or two plays are the difference between winning and losing sometimes. You have to finish in the fourth quarter.”
Green Bay is -1 in the turnover ratio: nine takeaways and 10 giveaways. “Turnovers are killers,” Ditka said. “Change that (stat) and wins usually follow.”
Pretender or contender?
“We’ll find out, won’t we,” said Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach. “The Packers have dug themselves a hole, but nobody is running away with that division. The Bears are a good football team—Trubisky is one of the best young quarterbacks and they have a running game to balance their offense. Beside Mack, the defense is not full of big names, but they are getting the job done. I think they are the best team in the division right now, but the Minnesota Vikings will have something to say about that.”
Ditka said the division race will come down to the final week.
“I’ve always had confidence in Mike McCarthy and they’ll figure it out and make a run,” Ditka said. “Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football and there’s enough weapons around him. But the running game has to step up when it turns cold (and passing is more challenging) and the defense has to (jell) and be more consistent. They haven’t put together a full game. The urgency is there: it’s mid-November football. You only have eight chances left.”
Ditka, who just got done playing 18 holes of golf in southern Florida in 88-degree temperatures, was informed Miami invades Lambeau Field Sunday with game-time temperatures expected in the mid-30s.
“You don’t hear much about the Dolphins (5-4),” Ditka said. “Warm weather teams don’t like to go to Green Bay in the middle of November or December. This team will go as far as Rodgers takes them. It’s time to play your best football. You can’t change the past. You let it all hang out.”
Week 10 NFL Picks
0-4 on the road. 3-0-1 at home. Must win against Dolphins at Lambeau Field in the cold. Miami defense vulnerable to explosive plays and yields 394 yards and 25 points per game.
Packers 30, Dolphins 20