GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Eight games should be enough to make more than just a snap judgment about the Green Bay Packers.
Halfway through the season, they’re flawed in every aspect of the game -- from Aaron Rodgers’ inconsistency to the defense’s inability to come up with key stops to an ill-timed special-teams lapse or two -- and they showed all of them in Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau Field.
No wonder they’re 4-4.
At least they’re not alone in their mediocrity in the NFC North. They’re still very much in the division race, just one game behind the first-place Minnesota Vikings, who have lost three straight after their 5-0 start. When the Packers and Vikings play on Christmas Eve in Green Bay, it may be for the only playoff berth from the division. Or perhaps when they play at Detroit on New Year’s Day, the Packers and Lions (5-4) will be playing for that right.
All the evidence anyone needs to induct the Packers into the Hall of Ordinary could be found on Sunday. Here’s what run-of-the-mill teams do:
They take the enthusiasm out of their home fans before they’re all even seated by giving up a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game. (And for good measure, they allowed the same returner, Jordan Todman, to return another kickoff 61 yards.)
They fail to turn two Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interceptions -- in this case, the first two of the season for Clinton-Dix -- into more than just seven points (a missed field goal prevented them for scoring on both of them).
They allow a 96-yard touchdown drive to end the first half down by 14 points.
Just when it looked like Rodgers had pulled himself -- and the Packers’ offense -- out of the doldrums with three straight Rodgers-like showings, he reverted to holding on to the football while his receivers failed to get open.
The maddening aspect of this team was on display, when Rodgers rallied the Packers from down 18 points to within one defensive stop of a shot at a game-winning drive. But when Clinton-Dix, for all the plays he made, failed to wrap up Andrew Luck for a sack on third down with 3:19 left in the game, it prevented Rodgers from getting a chance to complete that comeback.
Perhaps the worst part about where the Packers stand now is this: They don't play at home again until Dec. 4. Between now and then, their three straight road games, at Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia, may determine their fate.