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Packers Morning Buzz: Close games likely to go the other way for Green Bay

Stu Courtney
Packers News

Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.

We'll start with ESPN's Bill Barnwell listing the Packers as one of his four NFL teams most likely to decline from strong 2019 showings and miss the playoffs in the 2020 season.

Barnwell writes:

Most 13-3 teams blow out their competition. Green Bay didn't have many of those blowouts. Forty-eight teams have gone 13-3 since 1989, and they outscored their competition by an average of more than 150 points, or 9.4 points per game. Matt LaFleur's team outscored its opponents by 63 points, or less than 4 points per contest. It's the worst point differential for a team with this record over the past 31 seasons and the fourth-largest gap between a team's win-loss record and expected win-loss record over that time frame.

While the Packers did blow out the Raiders and gave the Vikings fits in a home-and-home sweep, this wasn't often a dominant team. They were forced to either come up with a goal-line stop or an interception to win games against the Bears and Panthers. They let the Broncos, Giants and Lions stick around into the fourth quarter, even with the latter having nothing to play for and David Blough at quarterback in Week 17. A nominally impressive win against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs is tempered by the fact that Kansas City was missing Patrick Mahomes, Eric Fisher, Frank Clark and Chris Jones.

The Packers were 6-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer and added a pair of wins by exactly 8 points. As tempting as it is to ascribe that to Rodgers' brilliance, he was just 34-34-1 as a starter in those same games before 2019. Is it possible that the difference between LaFleur and oft-criticized game manager Mike McCarthy was enough to turn this team into a late-game juggernaut? Theoretically, yes, although there's never been a coach in league history who won anything close to 85% of his close games over any significant length of time. The overwhelming evidence suggests that they won't win as many of these close ones in 2020.

You can read more from Barnwell on the Packers here:

The Packers are shaping up as a borderline playoff contender in the USA TODAY Sports power rankings. So too is the team led by Green Bay's former coach:

10. Packers (10): After largely sitting out free agency and drafting with an eye toward long-term future, last year's NFC finalists seem poised to retrograde.

11. Cowboys (13): From talent perspective, hard to argue they're not class of NFC East. But that was true of last year's 8-8 squad. Welcome, coach McCarthy.

You can see Nate Davis' complete list here:

After choosing not to draft a wide receiver, the Packers will be relying on Allen Lazard to once again play a large role in their offense:

The uncertainty surrounding the college football season presents problems for the Packers' scouting staff:

The Packers must be down to 80 players after the weekend:

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander's future is so bright ....

Check out the downfield blocking by new Packers receiver pickup Travis Fulgham:

Former Packers receiver Randall Cobb getting to know his new teammates in Texas:

One hundred and one years young:

And finally .... Kyle Brandt of 'Good Morning Football" is forced to multitask while working from home:

Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or scourtney@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt