Yes, I gave up on the Green Bay Packers eight weeks ago and basically proclaimed my Super Bowl preseason pick from the NFC was finished.

Oops.

The Packers have climbed out of the abyss, being prematurely declared done, to put themselves one victory away from the playoffs — one victory away from being a team that the rest of the NFC hopes like hell doesn’t make it.

Green Bay still doesn’t look like the dominant team we’ve seen in recent years with Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback, a team that earned the top seed a few times in the NFC. But they seem to be coming together at the right time.

They are making timely plays, big plays, big special teams plays and they are getting just enough out of Rodgers and the passing game to go with a good rushing attack that averages 125.6 yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush. The Packers average just 215.3 passing yards per game, but Rodgers seems to be coming on as of late as his receivers mature.

The Pack is back.

If the Packers beat the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field this week, they will be the seventh seed in the NFC. That means either the Minnesota Vikings, who they routed this past Sunday, or the San Francisco 49ers will be their first-round opponent.

The Packers are up to No. 16 in my Power Rankings this week as they continue to surge to the postseason with four straight victories to get to 8-8 on the season. One more, and the playoffs are here.

That isn’t to say the Packers don’t have issues. They still have run-defense problems that could end their bid to win it all — or even win this week. They give up 141.8 yards per game on the ground. That’s way too many. They’ve overcome that with the takeaways and special teams plays in the past month, but that rush number has to come down if they make the playoffs.

Then again, we probably haven’t seen the best of Rodgers yet. Each week, he appears much more comfortable with his young receivers, which isn’t something the rest of the NFC wants to see. The offensive line is also back healthy again, which is big.

So this is my apology to the Packers. I dismissed you a long time ago, yet here you are one game away from the playoffs — a team none of the other NFC teams wants to see in the postseason party.

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Bills

They have to deal with the tragedy involving safety Damar Hamlin, which postponed their game with the Bengals on Monday night. That cloud hangs over them until there is clarity on Hamlin. 1 12-3-0

2


Chiefs

They haven’t looked right the past few weeks, but they are finding ways to win games. They have to be better come playoff time. 1 13-3-0

3


49ers

They found a way against the Raiders, but the defense was exposed some. The defense is too good to play like that. Brock Purdy continued to play well. 2 12-4-0

4


Eagles

They are an ordinary team without Jalen Hurts. Now they might need to have to win this week against the Giants to win the division. 3 13-3-0

5


Bengals

They had their game with the Bills postponed Monday night, but they can still win the AFC North by beating the Ravens on Sunday. 1 11-4-0

6


Cowboys

It wasn’t pretty against the Titans, but they still can win the NFC East. The offense has been rolling up the points lately, which makes them a dangerous team every week. 1 12-4-0

7


Vikings

They were terrible in losing to the Packers, which makes the word fraud once again pop up when discussing them. They have a negative point differential, which is bad. 1 12-4-0

8


Chargers

They seem to really have it going at the right time. It’s amazing how good this team can look as they get healthy. 1 10-6-0

9


Ravens

They can’t score enough points without Lamar Jackson. Even so, they can still win the division by beating the Bengals. 1 10-6-0

10


Giants

They are the sixth seed in the playoffs, which means they have nothing to play for this week. Daniel Jones has made big strides to get them to this place. 1 9-6-1

11


Jaguars

They face a win-to-get-in game against the Titans this week. They have been rolling lately, but the Titans won’t be an easy out – no matter who is on the field. 2 8-8-0

12


Dolphins

Their quarterback situation has put this team in a bad spot. They have lost five straight games and might have to rely on seventh-round rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson to save their season. 2 8-8-0

13


Seahawks

If they win this week and the Lions beat the Packers, they will be in the playoffs. The defense won the game against the Jets. 2 8-8-0

14


Buccaneers

They rallied to beat the Panthers to get into the playoffs. Tom Brady looked like the player we expected to see all year in that game. Mike Evans was outstanding. 2 8-8-0

15


Lions

They are still alive in the playoff race, but they have to beat the Packers and hope the Seahawks lose. The first part won’t be easy. 3 8-8-0

16


Packers

If they beat the Lions, they are in the playoffs. That will be a challenge, but they are playing much better. 3 8-8-0

17


Steelers

Kenny Pickett is growing up before our eyes. His late-game drives to victories the last two weeks were impressive. 3 8-8-0

18


Patriots

They beat the Bills this week and they are in the playoffs. That won’t be easy on the road. 5 8-8-0

19


Commanders

They are done. The move to Carson Wentz as quarterback didn’t pay off. It might have been nice if Ron Rivera knew the playoff scenarios for his team. 7 7-8-1

20


Titans

They have to win a game on the road this week with a third-string quarterback who was just signed last week. That will challenge Mike Vrabel in a big way. 6 7-9-0

21


Jets

The return of Mike White didn’t help the offense as they were eliminated from the playoffs by losing to Seattle. They have a big issue at quarterback. 4 7-9-0

22


Saints

They won two straight road games, including beating the Eagles on Sunday. But it means nothing since they’ve been eliminated. 2 7-9-0

23


Browns

Deshaun Watson still isn’t lighting it up, but the defense played well against Washington. Are changes come to this team next season? 2 7-9-0

24


Panthers

They blew a big lead against Tampa Bay to get eliminated from the playoffs. They have to find a quarterback. 3 6-10-0

25


Raiders

Jarrett Stidham did some good things against the 49ers. Derek Carr’s days are done in Las Vegas, but is Stidham good enough? 3 6-10-0

26


Falcons

Desmond Ridder won his first game as an NFL starter, which is progress. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but he didn’t turn it over either. 6-10-0

27


Cardinals

They competed against the Falcons, but still came away with a loss. The next question is whether Kliff Kingsbury is safe. 4-12-0

28


Colts

The move to Nick Foles was a total disaster, and now he’s hurt. This team has to get a quarterback in the draft. 4-11-1

29


Rams

Their little push the last few games hit a big wall against the Chargers. This season was full of a lot of bad stuff. 5-11-0

30


Broncos

They showed some fight against the Chiefs after the firing of coach Nathaniel Hackett, but they still didn’t win. Russell Wilson was better. 2 4-12-0

31


Bears

They have fallen apart down the stretch. The defense has been really bad. That unit needs a lot of help. 1 3-13-0

32


Texans

They lose this week and they get the top pick. What quarterback will they take? They need one. 1 2-13-1

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