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In 2010, the Green Bay Packers won their final two regular-season games on their way to a 10-6 mark and eventually a win in Super Bowl XLV.
The last two seasons, Mike McCarthy's team has rolled up 15-1 and 11-5 marks, respectively, and won the NFC North each year only to bow out in the Divisional Playoffs each time.
Still, this is one of the league's best-run organizations and can usually be found in the Super Bowl mix each season.
Therefore, the Green Bay Packers will make a fifth-straight trip to the playoffs…
If: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to put up mind-boggling numbers. Over the last two seasons, the prolific signal-caller has thrown 84 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions in 31 regular-season games dating back to 2011. Still, a year after scoring 560 points, the second-most in a season in NFL history, the Packers totaled "only" 433 points in 2012. And some of that falls on the shoulders (or legs) of a ground game that ranked just 20th in the NFL this past season.
And: The Green Bay offensive line shows some improvement. Along with the shortcomings of the running game (which also saw its share of injuries in the backfield), Rodgers was sacked 51 times in 2012, the most by a quarterback this past season. And when you're dealing with the likes of some of the league's best defensive linemen in your own division alone, things won't get any easier for a team that is still a bit too one dimensional offensively at the moment.
But: If the Green Bay defense doesn't recapture its overall form of the team's Super Bowl season of 2010, the Packers won't be advancing any further in the postseason. A year after giving up the most passing yards in a season in NFL history, the Pack finished with 47 sacks but were only 17th against the run. Indicative of their struggles was the playoff split with the Vikings and 49ers in which McCarthy's team allowed a whopping 490 yards rushing; 241 yards to running back and 249 yards to quarterbacks. But remember, the Packers used their first six picks in the 2012 draft on defense and let's see how they perform in their second seasons.
So what do you think? The Packers found themselves in the only division last season where three teams won at least 10 games. Still, getting back to the Super Bowl has eluded this club the last few years. And with the competition hot and heavy in the NFC North, is it possible that the Pack won't be back in the playoffs in 2013?
Russell S. Baxter has spent the last 40-plus years watching football. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country, can be heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio and many other networks and was blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.
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