The Packers were — and frankly, are still — on the brink.
An upset win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday snapped an excruciating five-game losing streak, but there’s no time to celebrate the victory. If Green Bay wants to — as Aaron Rodgers once said — “run the table,” they’ll need to continue stacking wins to dig themselves out of their current 4-6 hole.
There’s only one way to go about things: One game at a time. Running back Aaron Jones knows a postseason-minded approach will be necessary for the Packers to claw their way back into contention.
“Definitely. We talked about it; we’ve got to play with urgency and try to get every win,” Jones told SiriusXM on Wednesday of Green Bay’s mindset entering the game against Dallas and moving forward. “It’s playoff football for us.”
Playoff football doesn’t get any easier on Thursday night when the Packers host a Tennessee Titans team that might not impress folks but presents quite a challenge. The Titans boast a strong running game thanks to the resurgence of Derrick Henry and a defense that is notably stingy against the run. This detail could prove to be massively important with frigid temperatures forecasted for the game at Lambeau Field.
Jones is coming off an excellent performance in the win over Dallas, finishing with 138 rushing yards and one touchdown on 24 attempts. In addition, he is helping revive a Packers offense that has too often been stuck in first or second gear. The efforts of Jones, Rodgers and rookie receiver Christian Watson produced the Packers’ highest-scoring output of the season and gave folks a reason to believe perhaps Green Bay was finally figuring it out.
That came against Dallas’ struggling run defense. Jones won’t find the going as easy on Thursday, at least not if the numbers are to be trusted.
Tennessee boasts the second-best run defense in the NFL, allowing just 85.1 yards per game on the ground and 3.9 yards per carry. The Titans have surrendered a mere two rushing touchdowns in their nine games played this season and have effectively forced opponents to move away from the run, facing an average of just 21.6 carries per game given to opposing backs.
Statistically, this would suggest the Packers would be better off throwing first and thinking twice about running the ball. But with Jones breaking 100 yards for the fourth time this season, Green Bay will likely want to keep going with the running back to bring much-needed balance to its offense.
It’s not quite an immovable object versus an unstoppable force, but this game shapes up to be a battle of stubbornness or perhaps a battle of wits. The Packers’ season could again depend on its outcome.