At this time last year, Green Bay and Los Angeles were streaking toward the playoffs with a potential NFC Championship showdown a strong possibility.
While the top-seeded Packers’ season ended with a disappointing NFC Divisional playoff loss at home to San Francisco, the Rams defeated their NFC West rivals a week later and ultimately were crowned Super Bowl champions.
What a difference a year can make.
What looked to be a marquee December match-up on Monday Night Football at frigid Lambeau Field this evening when the NFL schedule was announced this spring has turned out to be 5-8 Green Bay hosting 4-9 Los Angeles as both teams cling to minuscule playoff hopes that are still mathematically possible.
Both franchises want to win out and see what happens, but after tonight one team’s playoff hopes will be extinguished.
“We were certainly expecting to be competing for a championship and we are still in it,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said last week. “If we’re able to dig our way back into this thing, we still kind of feel like we still have the ability to do that. But this season has not gone as we expected.”
Coming off a much-needed bye week, the Packers’ offense receives a boost with the return of rookie receiver Romeo Doubs after a four-game injury hiatus. Doubs will add another option to complement Allen Lazard and rookie sensation Christian Watkins, who has emerged as the team’s top playmaker with eight touchdowns in the past four games. But veteran Sammy Watkins, who caught just 13 passes for 206 yards with no touchdowns in nine games this season, will not be an option.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the veteran receiver, who signed a one-year deal with the Packers, will be waived today by Green Bay.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with his thumb and ribs injuries much improved, said the offense has to step up and score more points in the next four games
Green Bay travels to Miami on Christmas day and then hosts the NFC North Division champion Vikings on January 1 and the steaking Detroit Lions on January 7 or 8. Last season the Packers averaged 26.5 points per game but have slipped to 20.2 ppg this season.
“We need to be in the 30s moving forward,” Rodgers said last week. “Regardless of what our defense does, we score 30 points, we should win these games.”
NFL Week 15 Picks
Packers 27, Rams 17
Step 2 of the win-out-and-hope-for-a-miracle scenario involves beating the warm-weather Rams at frigid Lambeau Field tonight. Hard to believe struggling Los Angeles is a defending Super Bowl champion and has Baker Mayfield at QB. Green Bay’s defense could set the tone in this one with early turnovers. Offense rolls behind Dillon and Jones and Rodgers (finally) with a full array of receivers against Ram’s Donald-less defense.
NFL Week 16
Dolphins 31, Packers 30
A shootout in Miami but Tua and Hill outgun Rodgers and Watson as playoff hopes extinguished on Christmas Day.