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Why Packers will miss playoffs but Jordan Love will earn extension: Predictions at NFL midseason.

Jordan Love Contract: Salary, Extension, Guaranteed Money | BetMGM

The Packers enter the second half of the season in an interesting spot, currently holding the No. 7 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft but also only one game back in the loss column for the NFC’s final playoff berth.

Sunday’s matchup with the Steelers in Pittsburgh will either further reinvigorate what largely has been a miserable Packers season or squelch whatever momentum Green Bay earned after its 20-3 win over the Rams.

As we embark on the back half of the 2023 season, let’s throw out five predictions for what will happen in Green Bay over the next nine games.

Jordan Love will earn extension

Packers: Jordan Love agrees to $22.5 million extension with Green Bay

The Packers’ 25-year-old quarterback hasn’t done enough yet to earn an extension from the Packers, something that might’ve seemed more plausible after his first two games of the season with six touchdowns and no interceptions to his name. Love, in part because of his own deficiencies and also because of a lackluster supporting cast, has not looked great for the majority of the six games that have followed.

Through the Packers’ 3-5 start, Love has 12 touchdown passes and eight interceptions to go along with a ranking of 16th in offensive pass EPA per dropback, according to TruMedia. Love looked better as a whole than he’s been in last Sunday’s victory over the Rams, making a couple of big throws in the second half to help the Packers win. Green Bay’s second-half schedule is tougher than what’s in the rearview, but as the youth around him continues getting more experience, Love should play much better.

Well enough, even, that the Packers won’t be in a position to draft a top quarterback in April and instead try to sign Love to a cheap (relatively speaking) long-term extension.

Stokes won’t unseat rookie

With 2021 first-round cornerback Eric Stokes on injured reserve for at least another two games, rookie seventh-round pick Carrington Valentine will have another two chances to make his case at outside cornerback. If how Valentine played against the Rams is any indication of what’s to come, Stokes won’t be a starter this season, at least not at outside cornerback. And I’m not sure nickel cornerback Keisean Nixon has done enough to relinquish his spot, either, especially after a strong performance against the run last Sunday.

There will be a ramp-up period — again — for Green Bay’s first selection in the 2021 draft as he returns from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 7 against the Broncos, but even with the recent trade of starting outside cornerback Rasul Douglas, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path for Stokes to play significant snaps on defense. In his first game since suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 9 last season, Stokes played only four special teams snaps in Denver before hurting his hamstring. That complicated his return to the lineup even further, and now Stokes might not be ready for a full workload until the final couple of games of the season.

The Packers must decide whether to exercise Stokes’ fifth-year option this offseason. Doing so would guarantee his 2025 salary at $11,941,000, according to Over the Cap. General manager Brian Gutekunst assuredly won’t do that with only about one full season of worthwhile play from Stokes under his belt through his first three years in the league.

Left tackle will be biggest draft need

With five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari unlikely to stay in Green Bay for the final year of his contract in 2024 — cutting or trading him before June 1, 2024, would free up $21.5 million in cap space, per OTC — the Packers likely will need a new starting left tackle. Elgton Jenkins can play left tackle, but the Packers like him best at left guard. Zach Tom can, too, but the Packers prefer him at right tackle.

Rasheed Walker, a 2022 seventh-round pick, got the first crack at replacing Bakhtiari after he went on injured reserve. That lasted until Week 8 when 2019 undrafted signing Yosh Nijman replaced him during the game against the Vikings and again started against the Rams. Nijman, who filled in admirably over the last two seasons before not even earning the swing tackle spot this summer, has injured his foot and back in consecutive games. Walker has actually played in each of the last two games after being benched for performance, but he doesn’t seem like the long-term answer on the blind side. Neither does Nijman, which means an early round left tackle should be in order in a couple months.

The Packers may not lose enough to be on the clock when either Penn State’s Olu Fashanu or Notre Dame’s Joe Alt are available — they rank fifth and sixth, respectively, on Dane Brugler’s most recent Top 50 Big Board — but perhaps Alabama’s JC Latham (No. 10) or Georgia’s Amarius Mims (No. 19) could pique Gutekunst’s interest.

Packers will barely miss playoffs

The first eight games on Green Bay’s schedule were supposed to be the easiest stretch. Instead, an inexperienced offense has been the team’s primary downfall and a largely inconsistent defense hasn’t always done its part. Still, the Packers’ early playoff hopes aren’t buried just yet, but it’ll probably take a Herculean effort compared to what we’ve been watching to earn a postseason spot.

Let’s go game-by-game and predict wins and losses. At Pittsburgh, win. Against the Chargers, loss. At Detroit, loss. Against the Chiefs, loss. At the Giants, win. Against the Buccaneers, win. At Carolina, win. At Minnesota, loss. Against the Bears, win.

That gets the Packers to 8-9, admirable given they were three games under .500 after a 24-10 loss to the Vikings at Lambeau Field, but that likely won’t be enough to sneak into the dance. The games remaining that most realistically could flip from losses to wins are the Week 11 home game against the Chargers and Week 17 trip to Minnesota, so maybe the Packers win one of those two and miraculously grab the No. 7 seed in what is the much weaker conference.

Rodgers will return to Green Bay

Rodgers says he will return to Green Bay | News, Sports, Jobs - Daily Press

The way the 2024 schedule is set up, the Packers will host whichever AFC East team finishes in the same spot in its division as Green Bay does in the NFC North. Through nine weeks, the Jets and Packers both sit in third place. The Jets are half a game back of the Bills for second place and two and a half games ahead of the Patriots in last place. The Packers are one and a half games behind the Vikings for second place and one and a half games up on the Bears for last place.

If the Jets and Packers finish in third place, or second or fourth place for that matter, Aaron Rodgers will play at Lambeau Field in 2024. Consider this an attempt at manifesting that, if only for the storylines and scenes alone.


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