Earlier in the season, I touched on one of the things that I strongly feel helps create a champion. Namely that a champion rarely runs through the regular season nearly uncontested and continues that path through the playoffs to an eventual trophy. Champions need to face some adversity to forge their identity and harden their resolve. Step two in that process of forging through adversity is to apply it and ignite.
The Packers appear to be very close to that point. They have felt the sting of losing big games, suffered a meltdown loss to lowly competition, and faced heavy pressure from the outside. A much talked about player meeting occurred following the week 9 loss to the Buccaneers where the players apparently decided enough was enough. There have been notable changes for the better since, on both sides of the ball (special teams….that is for another discussion).
With 3 straight wins in a short 12 days, not only has the ship been righted, but the Packers find themselves favorites to win a wild card spot, in complete control of their own destiny. More importantly, ashes are smoldering, there is a small flame, the team is on the verge of catching fire, if it hasn’t already.
The teams that ride into the playoffs hot, having already experienced real gut check moments, are almost always the most dangerous of all. It is as if the hatred of losing is what drives them, more intensely than teams that haven’t experienced that sort of adversity. Right now the Packers are playing as well as they have all season on offense and as well as they have all season on defense (though they need to continue to build through the losses of Al and Aaron).
If this team continues on this path and rides a hot streak through the remainder of the year, they will be exactly where they want to be, possibly even a stronger contender than they were in 2007, which peaked during the 3rd quarter of the season. The goal of any team is to save their peak for the playoffs, and the Packers are in position to do just that. History has shown that teams like the Saints and Vikings, which run through the regular season dishing out blowout after blowout, peak a little too early, and often struggle in the playoffs.
The Packers have to capitalize on this building momentum, continue to improve, and avoid any letdowns. If so I would consider them a very strong contender at the end. Right now there is no better position to be in from my point of view than where the Packers are now.