The Green Bay Packers have suffered their most humiliating loss of the year, 38-10, at the hands of the New York Giants. This loss would not be so resounding if it did not conjure up memories of the Packers losing in similar fashion in the NFL playoffs to the same team last year.
At 7-4, the Packers are still in position to make the playoffs, but after reeling of 5 straight wins this team has some obvious holes. This is not surprising considering the number of key players who have missed significant time this season, including receiver Greg Jennings, running back Cedric Benson, defensive back Charles Woodson, and outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
All four of these starters were absent from the MetLife Stadium this past Sunday, and are expected back during the month of December, just in time for a playoff run.
However, perhaps the Packers most important injury is the right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was lost for the season against the Lions with a dislocated hip. The number one issue for this team is to keep Aaron Rodgers upright and give him time to throw to the Packers dangerous receivers. With starting left guard T.J. Land shifting out to the right tackle position and backup Evan Dietrich-Smith taking his spot at left guard, the Packers are all of sudden less talented at two positions on the offensive line.
Unless backup tackle Derek Sherrod is activated this week from the PUP list, the Packers will have only two undrafted rookie offensive linemen as backups for the rest of the season. This will continue to be a major issue for the Packers as the rest of the season unfolding. 4 of the final 5 games are against division opponents, all of which boast great pass rushing defenses.
The Packers will have to shift their offensive play calling, which was atrociously obvious and ineffective against a middling Giants pass defense last Sunday. Perhaps the return of Benson in Mid-December will give the Packers a chance to get their ground game back to respectable and slow down the relentless pass rush. When the other team knows you are going to throw every play it puts a huge amount of pressure on your offensive linemen, and this unit does not look capable of standing up to that challenge.
The Packers have also lost a number of key playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, and this was clear when the Giants exposed a young and inexperienced group. With Dezman Moses filling in for Clay Matthews, the Giants could block one on one easily and gave Eli Manning plenty of time to pick apart the secondary. The return of Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson will certainly help stabilize this side of the ball, as well as the return of starting corner back Sam Shields.
So while there is plenty of reason for Packers fans to be concerned about the state of this team following such a humiliating loss, the return of five key starters in time for the playoffs could give this team the extra push it needs to make a deep playoff run.