Simple objective: Packers aiming for home games in playoffs

Green Bay has chance to win NFC North and gain first-round bye over last two weeks

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – With the Packers in the playoffs, Head Coach Matt LaFleur couldn't have made the objective over the last two weeks of the regular season any clearer.

"It's important to us to get as many games as we can in our own stadium," LaFleur said Monday.

That would start with winning the NFC North, which the Packers can do by beating either the Vikings next Monday night or the Lions in Week 17. A division title guarantees at least one home playoff game.

The chances for more than one would increase should the Packers get a top-two seed in the NFC and the accompanying first-round bye.

Green Bay (11-3) can secure a first-round bye by winning its last two games. The No. 1 seed also would be available with two wins, and if both San Francisco (11-3) and Seattle (11-3) lose one more game each.

"That would be awesome," center Corey Linsley said of getting a week of rest in early January to gear up for a postseason run. "In '14 when we had it, it was fantastic.

"Lambeau is a hard place to play, especially in the winter, that's why so much is at stake. That's why we can't just have this attitude that we made the playoffs, we're good. I don't think anybody in this building has that attitude."

Not at all, and the Packers also don't believe they've got this all figured out, not when the last two weeks they've squandered chances to put teams away and had to go to the wire to pull out victories.

The fits and starts on offense continue to hinder overall progress. When the Packers came out of the locker room after halftime and marched the length of the field twice in a row for touchdowns against the Bears on Sunday, "that's what it's supposed to look like," LaFleur said.

But then five consecutive fruitless possessions followed, including one that started inside the Chicago 35-yard line after a turnover and still didn't produce points. The Packers also had three straight drives to end the first half that reached Chicago territory, but they never added to their lead.

"When you have an opportunity to put somebody away, you have to take advantage of those," LaFleur said. "We have to make sure we're still being aggressive and trying to generate explosive plays.

"We have to be better, no doubt about it. We can't expect to win games being choppy. We have to be more consistent."

On the other side of the ball, the run defense has made strides of late, holding two of the last three opponents under 100 yards on the ground. But missed opportunities for turnovers and making things too "entertaining" at game's end don't sit well.

There are close-out chances on defense that are getting away, though LaFleur acknowledged the phases must complement one another, and the defense is going to be put in tough spots if the offense can't generate points or drain enough clock at crunch time.

So, the Packers know what's on the line, and they know where they must improve. The playoffs haven't started yet, but the opportunity to set themselves up in better position – both with their seeding and caliber of play – is knocking.

"Obviously we're excited to be in, but that's nowhere near our standard and our expectations," receiver Davante Adams said. "We don't leave it just there."

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