Sat, 03 Dec 2022

Green Bay knows what’s at stake against the NFC-leading EaglesWes Hodkiewicz

GREEN BAY - With six regular-season games left and a thin margin for error, the Packers' players and coaches return this week knowing what must be done to keep their playoff hopes alive.

They gotta win some football games, beginning this Sunday against the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles.

That was the message Head Coach Matt LaFleur delivered to his team following Thursday night's 27-17 loss to Tennessee, which dropped Green Bay to 4-7 on the season.

Entering Week 12, the Packers are currently four wins behind Minnesota in the NFC North standings and three games back in the loss column from San Francisco for the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.

"We are in a really tough spot," said LaFleur on Friday. "It's a one-game season from here on out. Every game is absolutely critical, and they all are but just in particular where we are today, there is no margin for error."

The Packers snapped a five-game skid last Sunday with an uplifting 31-28 overtime win over Dallas before stumbling in their Thursday night showdown with the Titans.

While All-Pro Derrick Henry was limited to just 3.1 yards per carry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill countered through the air with season highs in passing yards (333), completions (22) and passer rating (127.3).

Offensively, Green Bay was unable to establish its run game against the Titans (59 yards) like it did four days earlier against the Cowboys (207) while again struggling to convert takeaways into points.

"We've got to get a lot of things corrected and we've got to look at some of the things we're asking of our players," LaFleur said. "Some of those repeat mistakes whether it's offense or defense or on (special) teams, just can't have them happening."

As formidable as the AFC South-leading Titans were, the Packers must now travel to face a Philadelphia Eagles team that picked up its ninth win of the season following a late comeback over the Indianapolis Colts, 17-16.

NFL MVP candidate Jalen Hurts finished as the game's leading rusher, scrambling for a 7-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 20 seconds left to put the Eagles ahead for the first time all game.

It helped Philadelphia avoid dropping a second straight game after Washington upset the Eagles, 32-21, six days earlier at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football.

After pulling off an upset over the Cowboys at home, the Packers know it'll likely take a second one over an NFC East foe to stay in the playoff hunt.

"Our backs are against the wall. You've got to win games now," receiver Randall Cobb said. "You lose another one and you might as well say we're probably out. ... I feel like we had a sense of urgency going into Dallas. I feel like we had the same sense of urgency coming into (Thursday) and we just sputtered at times and didn't play complementary football."

A 10-win team has yet to miss the playoffs since the NFL moved to seven teams making the playoffs in each conference in 2020. That same year, the Chicago Bears clinched the seventh seed in the NFC with an 8-8 record.

Last year, the Eagles squeaked in at 9-8 after edging New Orleans based on a tiebreaker for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. In the AFC, Pittsburgh's 9-7-1 record was enough to turn back Indianapolis, Miami, and the Los Angeles Chargers, who all finished 9-8.

For the Packers, their focus is set solely on Philadelphia, which remains as dangerous as ever despite the Eagles' recent hiccups. After the Cowboys' 40-3 road romp of Minnesota Sunday, the Eagles now hold a one-game lead over the Vikings for the NFC's top seed.

"It's win or go home, you've just got to keep fighting," defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. "Every game is a playoff game at this point."

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