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Will It Be All-In or Long Game for Packers Against Dallas?

When Aaron Rodgers said the Packers needed to be all-in last January, he was surely referring to bolstering the team through roster additions. General manager Ted Thompson obliged that request, with possibly his most active offseason in his time with the team.

As we all know, after the dust settles from the frenzy of activity in the offseason, there are real games to be played. In the world of professional sports in America, the NFL is unique in that its regular season schedule is significantly shorter than the other prominent leagues. Because of that, the importance of a single game on any given team’s schedule is amplified.

Entering week five of the 2017 season, Green Bay sits at 3-1, tied with five other teams atop the NFC through one quarter of the year. Funnily enough, based on league tiebreaking procedures, the Packers would enter the playoffs as the NFC’s sixth seed if the season ended today. When viewed through that lens, Sunday’s clash with the Dallas Cowboys certainly takes on some extra meaning, especially if the Packers plan to make good on their wish of hosting games in the playoffs.

Of course, there’s two sides of the coin. A week five loss and a 3-2 start is hardly a devastating blow to a team’s playoff chances. Despite the 16-game schedule, teams have plenty of time to make up games lost this early in the season. Heck, we’ve seen Green Bay recover from much worse, much further down the road.

The biggest conversation piece surrounding the Packers at the moment is the names appearing on their injury report. Most notable among those names: starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, defensive tackle Mike Daniels, running back Ty Montgomery and wide receiver Davante Adams. All five players were listed as limited participants in Thursday’s practice, though Adams technically remains in the concussion protocol after leaving the field on a stretcher just a week ago. Based on those designations, it seems likely they will all enter the weekend as questionable for Sunday’s game.

To make a long story short, all five of these key players have the potential to change games at their respective positions and, despite what the team did against Chicago, the Packers are going to need all five of them in order to check off their long-term goals for the season. The question, then, is how Mike McCarthy and his staff will approach the Dallas game from an availability standpoint.

On one hand, it’s an intra-conference game against a likely playoff contender. Even though it’s only week five, the outcome of this game could have implications down the road, through both head-to-head and overall record tiebreakers. If your best players can play, you play them.

Unless you’re worried about what re-aggravation of their injuries could mean for their availability going forward. Traditionally, the Packers would rather play it safe on the injury front. Why rush a guy back if it means he’ll be re-injured and miss more time, potentially at a more crucial juncture in the season?

Green Bay may be forced to weigh the best interest of the team against the best interests of their injured stars on Sunday. We’ll see whether they push all their chips to the middle of the table, or wait for better cards and play the long game.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

sheppercheeser's picture

"Funnily"? Really, Chris?

marpag1's picture

Yeah, but there are bigger fish to fry than "funnily" ... for example, that having a clear, coherent thought is a pretty important part of writing.

ejr450's picture

My thoughts & preferences for this game (I'll be sure to text MM and TT with them as well)...

1) Bakh plays. He's had 4 weeks to heal.

2) Bulaga - test it on the field first. Legit game time decision. My rationale is it's turf and a fast track for edge guys. An ankle sprain limits lateral mobility that he needs.

3) DA - if he clears the protocol, he plays. That one is open/shut for me. If not, he waits.

4) Ty - I'd sit him in this one. We have guys who can handle their roles and don't need to risk him missing 4-6 weeks with guys targeting his ribs. Honestly, I'd sit him next week too.

5) Mr Daniels (you call him anything else at your own risk) - he plays. Same as Bakh - had 4 weeks to heal.

marpag1's picture

Huh? Do you know something about the progress of their injuries? How does the announcement that "he's had four weeks to heal" mean anything at all? Do all hips, hammies or ankles heal in four weeks? And if it's a fast track for edge guys, how is Bulaga's ankle more of a concern than Bakh's bad hamstring? And for what conceivable reason would anybody NOT play Adams if he's cleared to play? This is just weird ....

Finwiz's picture

I think what he's saying is, there are professional athletes with access to elite training staff, and four weeks should be enough for most non-broken bones injuries to heal. I think these guys milk it too much, and the staff is way too conservative. I'll bet if they inactivated all of them, and took away their game checks, they'd be out there playing a lot sooner?

Spud Rapids's picture

Milk it too much???? this isn't your Wednesday night beer softball league.

TXCHEESE's picture

I don't believe these guys are "milking it". Truth is, the season is a long one and coming back a week too early, especially from a soft tissue injury can jeopardize their availability the remainder of the year. This is not the playoffs. They have to be smart about injuries, early in the year. Pretty confident, if they are given the green light by the medical staff, they'll play. This is the Cowboys after all.

flackcatcher's picture

Your probably right. The Packers are playing on turf this sunday, and that factors into what the medical staff will allow. It it were me, I sit them, I hate turf. Bad things happen to feet and quads on turf. Still, it's the Cowboys, and putting a pasting on the Cowboys in Jerry world would feel real good despite the risk.

mrtundra's picture

If anyone thinks flackcatcher is wrong about turf and injuries, take a look at the vikings and their turf in the Stapler. Their star rookie RB, Cook, is done for the season after his left foot caught the turf and dragged on it causing him to tear his ACL on that knee. I'm thinking that turf is partly to blame for Bradford's and Teddy B.'s injuries, as well.

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