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Packers losing grip on NFC

The Green Bay Packers looked like they were going to roll to the top overall playoff seed in the NFC only a few weeks ago, but suddenly that appears anything but certain.

Green Bay lost its second straight game on Sunday afternoon to the Carolina Panthers, this time falling 37-29 in the final minutes. The Packers had lost 29-10 the week before against the Denver Broncos in primetime, giving them their first loss of the campaign.

At 6-2, the Packers certainly hold one of the best records in the league, but the shield of perceived invincibility is now completely out the window. In each of the pas two weeks, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has not played particularly well. The defense has been bad as well, allowing a litany of points and third down conversations. Head coach Mike McCarthy has to be concerned about the overall tenor of his team, which now finds itself tied with the Minnesota Vikings for first place in the NFC North.

Ultimately, provided they can stay healthy, the Packers remain overwhelming favorites to win the division. However, getting a BYE week or home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs won’t be easy anymore. Green Bay is tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the second seed at the moment and trails Carolina by two games for the top seed. In addition, the Panthers now own the tiebreaker on Green Bay, putting it in even tougher position moving forward.

The Packers schedule the rest of the way suggests the team will figure it out. After all, it is yet to lose to a team without an undefeated record. Green Bay still has to play home games against the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. The Packers also have pairs of games against the aforementioned Vikings and the worthless Detroit Lions, who are 1-7 and more than ready to start playing some golf. The Oakland Raiders are also on the docket, along with a potentially key game on Dec. 27 (Week 16) at the Cardinals.

Only a few weeks ago, almost everyone and their mother was picking Green Bay to meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara, Calif. Now? It seems anybody’s race in the NFC, with the Packers, Panthers and Cardinals all looking like viable candidates. Green Bay is still a team that is all but unbeatable at home, but maybe the playoffs won’t be running through Lambeau Field anymore.

With half of the National Football League’s regular season remaining, it seems anything is possible.

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