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Can Green Bay Packers still make the NFC playoffs?

The Green Bay Packers should be better than this, even without Aaron Rodgers. Thursday's 40-10 beatdown at the hands of the Detroit Lions was embarrassing, and it looked even worse than the score indicated.

Detroit outgained Green Bay 561 to 126 in total yards, the biggest margin of any NFL game this season. The result continued a month-long trend: The rest of this Packers team has failed to step up with Rodgers out.

The defense has been especially troubling. Struggling offenses like the Giants and Vikings moved the ball well on them. While Matt Flynn held the ball too long at times Thursday, the offensive line has struggled. At one point, the Lions had 14 quarterback hits on just 21 drop backs by Flynn. 

"It was an embarrassing loss for us," coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "We don't feel very good about ourselves right now. We're a wounded team that got drilled today."

The Packers are 0-4-1 in games Rodgers didn't finish. McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson have deserved all the praise they have received over the last five years, but Rodgers' collarbone injury has made the Packers look like a one-man organization. 

There are positive signs Rodgers might return in Week 14. He was seen throwing passes up to 50 yards on the field before Thursday's game, which begs the question:

Can the Packers still make the playoffs?

At 5-6-1, the Packers will probably need to win out and get some help. Considering the erratic nature of the Lions, and the Chicago Bears' crumbling defense, it would not be surprising to see 9-6-1 win the NFC North. Detroit could easily stumble down the stretch, but the Packers have serious issues they need to address.

The playoff picture


How would your team's prospects look if the season ended today? See where each team stands in the playoff picture midway through the season. **More ...**

The schedule is mostly favorable. The Packers host the Atlanta Falcons, visit the Dallas Cowboys, host the Pittsburgh Steelers and head to Chicago for the season finale.

The Falcons game should help the team get back on the winning track. The next three games aren't easy, but they aren't against Super Bowl contenders either.

I'm not ready to stick a fork in the Packers yet, even down 1.5 games with four to play. That's the power of a great quarterback. Aaron Rodgers could still cover up a lot of problems.

*We did stick a fork in three teams during the most recent "Around The League Podcast." *

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