Are the Packers a contender or pretender in the stacked NFC?

The Green Bay Packers moved one step closer to an NFC North title with a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears, but it didn’t do much to prove they are a contender in the loaded NFC.

The Green Bay Packers had to hang on for dear life to beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday, with Mitchell Trubisky getting multiple shots into the end zone in the final seconds. Not ideal.

Even though the victory moved the Packers one step closer to a division title, it did little to demonstrate that Green Bay can emerge from a stacked NFC.

Aaron Rodgers delivered a middling performance in the passing game, completing 16-of-33 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. The rushing game was slightly more efficient, with three rushers combining for 100 yards and two touchdown on 24 carries, with both scores coming from Aaron Jones.

The offense’s inability to truly put the Bears away put the pressure on Green Bay’s defense to  do the real heavy lifting, which they did to an extent by forcing three turnovers. In spite of the extra possessions, the Packers still left the Bears with an opportunity to tie the game in the final minutes, with Chicago nearly pulling off a hook-and-ladder score on the final play before the ball was fumbled inside the five yard line.

This kind of performance is not what the Packers hoped to see as they are trying to get into top form ahead of the playoffs, where they will assuredly be hosting a first round game. Green Bay’s best win this season came all the way back in Week 2 when they topped the Minnesota Vikings at home, and they’re not playing well enough to just show up and win the rematch in Minnesota next Monday.

The Packers have had one shot at a big time team this season, and it went very poorly for them as they were humiliated in San Francisco, losing 38-7 to the 49ers. While the defense is certainly playoff caliber for Green Bay, the offense’s struggles are very likely to keep the Packers from being a true Super Bowl contender this season.

Rodgers has looked more mortal this season and Green Bay’s inability to develop a second target behind Davante Adams is really killing Rodgers’ ability to move the football. Having one reliable pass catcher won’t cut it against teams like New Orleans, Seattle, and San Francisco, particularly on the road, so don’t be shocked if Green Bay isn’t playing past Divisional Weekend in January.

Next: Each NFL Playoff Contender's worst loss this season
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