The Packers will head into their game against the Vikings tomorrow night with a lot of opportunities on the table. The chance to go .500 and avoid a losing season being the most worthwhile goal. The outside chance to get to the playoffs a distant second. Most importantly, the honest to goodness real live first step towards rebuilding will be complete.
Getting to 8-8 isn't the greatest thing this team can accomplish, but it's the most important. Coming into this year I couldn't find a legit publication that had the Packers picking up more than 5 wins. A .500 record with meaningful (if ultimately pointless) games to win in the last month of the season would mean a lot to the young players on the team. Heck, at 8-8 Favre might consider another go-round and with how terrible the rest of the division is a playoff run might be possible next year.
There is, amazingly, still the chance at the playoffs. Frankly, I think we all know a trip to the playoffs for this team will be a quick one. But that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. Usually I think that a one and done is pretty pointless, but not when almost all of your players are young and still feed off of hope. Also, playing games that mean something right now will pay off down the line. Their season's been on the line the past two weeks and they've come up with wins. Two more and I have to believe they go into the offseason feeling good about themselves.
Finally - this team can put to death the notion that they are willing to stay in the bottom of the standings if they can pull off these last two wins. 8-8 is many things, most of them are not good, but the Packers might just be handling this rebuilding effort the right way. Surround the savvy vets like Ahman, Donald and Favre with the young guys to teach them the game. Then when the old guys retire the young guys are seasoned enough to mentor their replacements.
I mean, let's face it, if Rodgers was starting for us this year the O-line would have a lot less confidence because he doesn't have Favre's awareness in the pocket. The receivers would be wondering if they screwed up an option route or if it was the rookie qb's fault. This way, the young guys have someone to rely on and coach them up on the field. It may not always be pretty, there have been way too many mistakes, but at least there's someone to rely on.
We have an interesting window to look through here. If this team gets to .500 and finishes strong then I think Favre comes back and that $20 million under the cap gets spent on the defense (or another receiver). This team could win 10+ games next year thanks to getting to play the Lions and Vikings 4 times. It's all hanging in the balance. A 6-10 finish means Favre is probably done and Rodgers will be around next year. Thank God we get to play the Vikings this week.