Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced Wednesday that Staley had finger surgery after he fractured and dislocated his finger in Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
“He will not play this week,” Shanahan said. “He’ll probably be out a couple weeks.”
Staley suffered the injury in the game and was able to play through it, but when he woke up on Tuesday morning, the finger had swelled considerably, and he sought out San Francisco’s medical staff to find out the extent of the injury.
Shanahan told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Staley had the broken finger but was seeking a second opinion before getting the surgery that would require him to miss a couple of weeks.
As it turned out, Staley needed surgery and underwent the procedure Tuesday evening. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey, a close friend of Staley’s, said he has been in touch with Staley.
“It was an unfortunate thing, didn’t even realized that it happened,” McGlinchey said. “It was a finger that I think he had already had some issues with, and he came in the next morning, and it had ballooned up on him, and it was like an afterthought. Unfortunately, that’s the results that came back. But his spirits are high, he’s going to continue to rehab and be a pro like he always does, and hopefully we get him back in a few weeks.”
Rookie Justin Skule, who filled in for Staley while he was out earlier this season, will “most likely” step back in to that role, according to Shanahan.
“I thought he did a very good job,” Shanahan said. “He came in there and stepped it up right away. I thought he got better each week.”
Baker Mayfield says Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury ‘wasn’t handled right’
“I’d say that it wasn’t handled right,” Mayfield said. “He’s not able to run as well as he … should be able to, as well as he knows. And that’s frustrating for him. You can sense some of his frustration, where that comes from. It wasn’t handled the right way, in our training room. It is what it is. His not 100% is still good enough for us.”
Mayfield’s comments came on the heels of reports that Beckham is weighing offseason surgery to correct an injury he has been dealing with since training camp. After Sunday’s game, Beckham replied, “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out after the season,” when asked whether the injury will require surgery. Beckham also said he’s unsure what his injury actually is, although NFL Network reported Sunday morning that Beckham had a sports hernia injury.
“I don’t really know,” he said. “You have to ask the doctors if you have a chance to interview them. I really don’t know what to tell you.”
Whatever the injury, Mayfield suggested that had Beckham undergone surgery during the preseason, he — and the Browns — would’ve been better off than they are now, as Beckham has had to play through pain all year for a team that is 6-7 with just a slim shot of still making the playoffs.
“I think it could’ve been addressed earlier on,” Mayfield said. “Looking back on it, obviously, hindsight is 20/20, he probably would’ve missed the first two [games]. One or two. Just based on the fact that it was during training camp. It is what it is. We’re here right now. It’s too late to do that. He’s fighting through pain; he’s playing through pain. That shows you the type of guy he is.”
After speaking to reporters, Mayfield posted tweets offering an apology for his comments, and clarified that his intentions “were not to throw our medical staff under the bus.”
“No I don’t know all the facts about Odell’s injury,” he added. “It was emotionally answered because I can sense his frustration and I care about my team and putting us in the best position to win.
“Those people within our building know my intentions and where I am coming from. I truly believe that and I apologize to those that don’t deserve the backlash…. today was a good team win. On to the next one.”
Those people within our building know my intentions and where I am coming from. I truly believe that and I apologize to those that don’t deserve the backlash…. today was a good team win. On to the next one.
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) December 8, 2019
The 27-year-old Beckham has been on the injury report throughout this season for what has been termed hip and groin injuries and has regularly been a limited practice participant since early on during training camp, sitting out all four of Cleveland’s preseason games. In his first year with the Browns, Beckham is also having the worst statistical season of his career, excluding his injury-riddled 2017 one with the New York Giants.
On Sunday against the Bengals, Beckham was quiet again, finishing with only two catches for 39 yards, his seventh consecutive game without topping 100 receiving yards, the longest such streak of his career.
“I really don’t run until Friday,” said Beckham, referring to his practice week. “I come out here and do what I can. At this point, it is what it is. There is nothing you can really do but finish out the season.”
Beckham’s health wasn’t the only thing looming over the team Sunday.
On Thursday, Beckham was vague about his future in Cleveland past this season, telling reporters, “no one knows what the future holds, like tomorrow.” He followed up with a tweet Friday indicating he was not saying that he was unhappy in Cleveland but was just hoping for better results.
But Sunday morning, FOX Sports reported during its NFL pregame show that Beckham has been telling opposing players and coaches before games, “come get me” out of Cleveland.
When asked about the report, Beckham tersely said, “I’m not gonna talk about any offseason stuff that’s going on right now. The focus is to win — 1-0. And that’s what we did today. So, any other questions about it, I’m not gonna answer.”
When then asked if it troubles him that stories about his future are already coming out in this way, Beckham replied that he’s “used to it” and that “he’s been dealing with it for three or four years” dating back to his time with the Giants.
“It’s just the same thing that’s going on,” he said. “Not anything that I can’t handle.”
Coach Freddie Kitchens declined to comment on the report Beckham wants out of Cleveland.
Mayfield added that he hasn’t gotten the sense Beckham is looking for a way out, and that he continues to have a “good relationship” with the All-Pro.
“The drama is just drama,” Mayfield said. “It continues to be that on the outside. Within our walls, we know exactly what we have. … So I’m not worried about that.”
Week 14 NFL takeaways – What’s next for the Saints, Bills after crushing losses
In a 94-point offensive duel between two NFC teams with double-digit wins, the 49ers edged the Saints. The showdown headlined a strong lineup of Week 14 matchups. The Ravens clinched a playoff bid with a victory over the Bills, quarterback Drew Lock impressed in a Broncos win over the Texans, and the Buccaneers kept their playoff aspirations alive with a victory against the Colts.
In the afternoon, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West by topping conference foe New England. And the Jaguars and Raiders continued their slides.
Here are Week 14’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.
Count the Rams out of the playoffs? Don’t do it — at least not yet — after they stunned the Seahawks on Sunday night. Jared Goff passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions. The defense sacked Russell Wilson five times, and the Rams appear capable of — don’t laugh — winning their next three games, which include road contests against the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers and a regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams are one game behind the Minnesota Vikings for a wild-card spot. — Lindsey Thiry
Next game: at Dallas (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)
The only good thing you can say about the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams? It might not matter all that much. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Seattle still has a 99% chance to make the playoffs, a 31% chance to win the NFC West, a 21% chance to earn the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a 30% chance to earn one of the top two seeds. Everything is still within the Seahawks’ reach with three games left, but there were enough issues Sunday — pass protection, drops and a lack of explosiveness on offense, a lack of pressure and four long touchdown drives on defense — to wonder if this team is really built to make a deep run in the playoffs once it gets there. — Brady Henderson
Next game: at Carolina (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The 49ers have what it takes to win in the most difficult environments, including in the loud Superdome. Sunday’s 48-46 victory against the Saints showed a Niners team that has leaned on its defense most of this season can win a shootout against another top contender. In the process, the Niners remained in control of their destiny in the NFC playoff race. “It’s going to come down to the last week with a number of teams in the NFC, and we are looking forward to next week,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. — Nick Wagoner
Next game: vs. Atlanta (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Saints got the offensive outburst they’ve been waiting for but squandered it with their worst defensive performance of the season. The Saints (10-3) can still potentially wind up as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. But now they might need losses by the 49ers, Seahawks and Packers to make it happen. — Mike Triplett
Next game: vs. Indianapolis (8:15 p.m. ET Monday, Dec. 16)
The Ravens clinched a playoff bid in Buffalo, but there wasn’t much celebrating. “I tried to make a big deal about it in the locker room, and the guys kind of gave me a smattering of applause,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They expected that; I think they’ve earned the right to expect that.” Winners of nine consecutive games, the Ravens (11-2) are looking to secure the top seed in the AFC for the first time in franchise history. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: vs. New York Jets (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)
Regardless of how well the defense plays, 209 yards of offense is not going to cut it. Neither will 146 yards on 17-of-39 passing. The Bills and quarterback Josh Allen figured it out the hard way in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Are the Bills the team that averaged 401 yards in its previous three games, or the one that relies on its defense to bail it out until its offense heroically puts points on the board? We’ll find out against the Steelers in Week 15. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Bucs overcame the loss of Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans to a hamstring injury, a broken thumb for quarterback Jameis Winston and four turnovers for their third straight win. Winston tossed three interceptions — including an 80-yard pick-six from Darius Leonard — yet also threw for a career-high 456 passing yards and four touchdowns with a fifth score on the ground. “It’s a damn good thing I’m a young cub. Coaching the nicest team in the league is tough. We just love spotting 17 points to the other team, then come back and winning,” coach Bruce Arians joked. “I don’t think I have blood pressure anymore.” — Jenna Laine
Next game: at Detroit (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Colts came unraveled in the second half for the second consecutive game, and their playoff hopes are basically on life support after they gave up 542 total yards. The Colts have allowed the final 17 points in each of their past two games, contests they were in position to win. Indianapolis has lost five of its past six games after having a 5-2 record and being in first place in the AFC South. — Mike Wells
Next game: at New Orleans (8:15 p.m. ET Monday, Dec. 16)
It might be viewed as a “bounce-back” performance by the Vikings’ defense, but the way this unit played against a third-string rookie quarterback was expected. The Vikings opened the final quarter of the season by getting some mojo back against an overmatched opponent, sacking Lions quarterback David Blough five times with their fourth-lowest pressure rate of the season (11 of Blough’s 45 dropbacks) and watching their newfound cornerback rotation take shape. “It’s important we get a chip back on our shoulder, and I thought we kind of did that,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We need to keep going and keep doing that. That’s why I wish we wouldn’t have let them score.” — Courtney Cronin
Next game: at Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
Mike Zimmer praises the Vikings’ overall efficiency, but expresses his frustration that his defense let the Lions score a late touchdown.
The good news for the Lions in their sixth consecutive loss is the team continues to move up in the 2020 draft. Atlanta’s defeat of Carolina moved Detroit into the No. 5 draft position, just behind the Bengals, Redskins, Giants and Dolphins. Considering some of those teams still play each other, it’s entirely possible that three more losses could put Detroit in even better position to land a top pick in the spring. — Michael Rothstein
Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Broncos have won both of Drew Lock‘s starts, his first two games since coming off injured reserve. The quarterback was 22-of-27 passing for 309 yards and three touchdowns Sunday in a game the Broncos led by 35 points in the third quarter. Lock joins John Elway and Marlin Briscoe as the only first-year players in Broncos history with 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in a single game, per ESPN Stats & Information research. His teammates have lauded his composure, and Lock said Sunday his challenge is to take “it day by day … and not get too far ahead of ourselves.” — Jeff Legwold
Next game: at Kansas City (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
A week after the Texans beat the Patriots, Houston struggled against the Broncos at home. All three Texans touchdowns came after they were already trailing 38-3. Coach Bill O’Brien took the blame for the loss, saying, “I don’t think there was anything very good” in the game. At 8-5, Houston still has an opportunity to win the AFC South with two games in three weeks against the Titans. But Sunday’s loss ended any hope of a first-round bye. — Sarah Barshop
Next game: at Tennessee (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
Winning ugly might work against teams like the Giants and Redskins, but at 10-3, the Packers probably can’t expect a performance like Sunday’s to be good enough for a long playoff run. Or maybe it can? While quarterback Aaron Rodgers said there is frustration at times with the inconsistent performance on offense, he added that “it might be ugly to some folks … [but] I wouldn’t mind winning ugly all the way to the Super Bowl.” — Rob Demovsky
Next game: vs. Chicago (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Redskins are not a good team, but they are a tough-minded one. There’s no reason they should have been within a score of Green Bay late, not given their talent level and several injuries during the game. They’ve proved resilient the past couple of weeks, but they keep falling behind (14-0 deficits in each of the past two games). The Redskins are not equipped offensively to consistently handle such deficits. Despite a bad record, they have developed a good mindset. — John Keim
Next game: vs. Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Falcons looked better along the offensive line with rookie Chris Lindstrom back in the lineup for the first time since breaking his right foot in the season opener. Lindstrom started at right guard and was in a rotation with another young, inexperienced player in Matt Gono. But when Lindstrom drove Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler to the ground, it showed how much the Falcons had missed his play. Atlanta ran the ball better, with a season-high 159 rushing yards and Devonta Freeman‘s first rushing touchdown since December 2017. Plus, quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked one time on a day when he surpassed 50,000 passing yards for his career. — Vaughn McClure
Next game: at San Francisco (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)
Interim coach Perry Fewell said it best after Carolina’s fifth consecutive loss after a 5-3 start: “We’re all fighting for our jobs.” The losses already cost coach Ron Rivera his job. Sunday’s sloppy performance (four turnovers) didn’t help Fewell’s chances of being a serious candidate to replace him. The five-game losing streak gives the Panthers a 1-12 record in the second half of the season over the past two years. Last season’s team started 6-2 and lost seven straight before winning its finale. This team could be headed for a complete overhaul by owner David Tepper. — David Newton
Next game: vs. Seattle (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Browns defeated the Bengals once they remembered they boast the NFL’s leading rusher and were facing the league’s worst run defense. After getting only three carries in the first half Sunday, Nick Chubb powered the Browns with his sixth 100-yard rushing game this season, the most by a Cleveland runner since 1968. Yet even as the Browns landed their fourth victory in five games, speculation surrounding Odell Beckham Jr.‘s health and future in Cleveland seemed to overshadow the game itself. Last week, Beckham was vague about his future in Cleveland beyond this season. Then after Sunday’s game, when asked about a pregame Fox report that he’s been telling opposing coaches and players to “come get me” out of Cleveland, Beckham would say only that he wouldn’t be answering questions “about any offseason stuff that’s going on.” That nondenial will surely fuel even more speculation about his future as they prepare to meet Arizona in a must-win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. — Jake Trotter
Next game: at Arizona (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
Baker Mayfield says the Browns’ training room mishandled Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury situation before the season even started.
Mark Sunday’s loss to the Browns as another game the Bengals should have won. Cincinnati outgained Cleveland, won the turnover margin and had five red zone possessions. However, the Bengals were unable to score more than one touchdown. The loss at Cleveland and the season-opening defeat at Seattle could be reasons the Bengals have the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. “It was a game we felt like we had good control over,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “We just didn’t execute in those key situations.” — Ben Baby
Next game: vs. New England (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Jets overcame a lot to beat the Dolphins, including no Le’Veon Bell, no Jamal Adams and no consistency on offense. And let’s not forget about a late deficit. The talent might not be there, and a lot of key players weren’t available because of injuries, but the team showed mental toughness after last weekend’s no-show. — Rich Cimini
Next game: at Baltimore (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday)
The Dolphins haven’t lacked in fight or emotion, but talent upgrades are needed at just about every position as they look toward 2020. Almost every week since its Week 5 bye, Miami has been competitive and in position to win. That fight is admirable but shouldn’t hide the dearth of talent, most notably at offensive line, edge rusher and defensive back, that will make this offseason so important. — Cameron Wolfe
Next game: at New York Giants (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
Playing on his 38th birthday, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers showed he can still make plays. Rivers was efficient, completing 16 of 22 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. In doing so, he eclipsed 3,500 passing yards for a 12th consecutive season, the third-longest streak in NFL history. “It was a fun day,” Rivers said. “We’ve shown spurts of this this year. I’ve thrown the ball this same way this year. I’ve just had some critical turnovers and some other misses. But we’ve shown spurts of this. We were just more consistent today.” — Eric D. Williams
Next game: vs. Minnesota (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Jaguars lost their fifth consecutive game. And Sunday was worse than the 28-point loss in Seattle in 2013, the 34-point loss in New England in 2015 and the embarrassment on national TV in Tennessee in 2016. Those Jaguars teams didn’t have much talent. But there are three Pro Bowlers on this defense. Leonard Fournette entered the game third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. DJ Chark is one of the best young receivers in the league. There has been a lot of money spent on free agents and extensions, including a big-money deal to land now-backup quarterback Nick Foles. Yet this team is 4-9 and hasn’t been competitive since October. It’s hard to imagine owner Shad Khan holding off until the season ends to fire coach Doug Marrone. There’s one more home game (Dec. 29), and Khan surely doesn’t want to watch his franchise get even lower. — Mike DiRocco
Next game: at Oakland (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Chiefs clinched their fourth consecutive AFC West championship but have plenty to play for. At 9-4, they are a game behind the 10-3 Patriots in the race for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, so they’d need to gain a game for a first-round bye. But by virtue of Sunday’s victory, the Chiefs would have the tiebreaker. — Adam Teicher
Next game: vs. Denver (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Chiefs jump out to an early 17-3 lead with two first-half touchdowns, but the Patriots can’t overcome it as they fall at home 23-16 to Kansas City.
The Patriots were on the wrong end of two crucial calls by the officials, contributing to their comeback falling short. But while that was disappointing, equally so was the fact they were in a position to need a comeback after an extended stretch of offensive ineptitude. Coach Bill Belichick credited the team’s resolve, saying it would serve the Patriots well going forward, which was a silver lining as they are now “on to Cincinnati.” — Mike Reiss
Next game: at Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Titans exploded for 552 total yards and scored 30 or more points for the fourth consecutive game. The offense is finding balance with running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading the way. Henry rushed 103 yards, giving him four consecutive games with at least 100. Tannehill finished with 391 yards and three touchdowns. The balanced attack paired with the defense bodes well for the Titans as they return home to host the Texans for a showdown that will have heavy AFC South title ramifications. — Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Houston (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
Well, that should be a wrap. The Raiders’ run to a playoff spot, as unlikely as it seemed at the start of the season, is all but done, courtesy of a loss to the Titans in the penultimate game at the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders, who lost their third straight game, fell to 6-7. The Titans, one of two teams the Raiders were chasing for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, improved to 8-5. The Raiders were a feel-good story when they sat at 6-4 and rode a three-game winning streak in this latest rebuilding season, but injuries and ineffectiveness the past month have turned the tide. “We did put ourselves in position to make a run and we didn’t do it,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “It’s just as simple as that, right?” Right. — Paul Gutierrez
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
The Steelers keep finding ways to win. This time, receiver Diontae Johnson powered his team to a victory with two scores — including Pittsburgh’s first punt return touchdown since 2015 — and cornerback Joe Haden sealed the game with an interception on the final drive. “Just keep playing complementary football,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “Offense puts up the points, defense keeps ’em off the scoreboard. Special teams came through today.” With the win, the Steelers continue to hold the No. 6 spot in the AFC playoff race and have guaranteed the team won’t have a losing record in the regular season, something that seemed a long way off when it started 1-3 and lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. — Brooke Pryor
Next game: vs. Buffalo (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday)
Another game, another loss for the Cardinals. They have three more chances to avoid finishing the season on a nine-game losing streak — a feat not even former coach Steve Wilks accomplished before getting fired after going 3-13 last season. There are major issues for Arizona on both sides of the ball, and they likely won’t be fixed by season’s end. At this point, the Cardinals are hoping to get out of each game with a victory and make strides toward 2020. — Josh Weinfuss
Next game: vs. Cleveland (4:05 p.m. ET Sunday)
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is playing like a top-five pick. It’s impossible to ignore the fact Trubisky struggled mightily at times this season, but it all came together against the Cowboys. Trubisky not only passed for 244 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but he also ran for 63 yards and a score. That’s important because he entered the game with 80 rushing yards for the season. The Bears need Trubisky to be multidimensional, which he was in Chicago’s victory over the fading Cowboys. Trubisky can’t erase what happened earlier in the season, but he appears to be ending it on a high note. — Jeff Dickerson
Next game: at Green Bay (1 p.m. ET Sunday)
With 10 days off between games, maybe the Cowboys can use the time to gather themselves after their third consecutive defeat. Emotions are edgy from owner and general manager Jerry Jones to the players. They know what they have to do — play better football — they just don’t know how to get it done. The Cowboys can still win the division, thanks to Philadelphia’s issues, but this was a team that was viewed as a Super Bowl contender. Having lost seven of their past 10 games, the Cowboys lack confidence and belief to fight through the adversities of the game. — Todd Archer
Next game: vs. Los Angeles Rams (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday)
Packers OK ‘winning ugly all the way to the Super Bowl’
“I may have caught the end of it,” the Green Bay Packers coach said.
The 49ers’ 48-46 last-second win over the Saints helped move Green Bay into the No. 2 spot in the NFC, but after another middling performance from the Packers in Sunday’s 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins, it’s worth wondering what LaFleur’s team needs to do to put up points like those two teams.
“I think if we had the answers right now, you wouldn’t be seeing what you saw today,” LaFleur said.
What everyone saw was a second straight game against a losing team from the NFL’s worst division take the Packers all the way to the fourth quarter before they could exhale.
Despite a productive day from running back Aaron Jones — 192 total yards from scrimmage (134 rushing, 58 receiving) and his team-leading 15th touchdown — and four sacks of Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins, it was far from the dominating performance that was expected against a team with a rookie quarterback and an interim head coach.
“It was frustrating at times just not being able to get over that hump and put them away,” Rodgers said.
“But it feels good to be 10-3,” Rodgers added.
Rodgers threw for just 195 yards and one touchdown on 18-of-28 passing despite having more time to throw than he’s had in an game over the past four seasons. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Rodgers averaged 3.5 seconds to throw and only 3.6% of his passes were thrown into a tight window (also his lowest in a game he completed over the past four seasons). He also was pressured on only 24% of his dropbacks, below his season average of 28%.
“It might be ugly at times to maybe some folks, but we ran the ball today for 180 yards or so and got Aaron Jones going,” Rodgers said. “Different teams have thrown different things at us. I just think we need to be a little more consistent at times. I don’t think we had maybe the same type of flow after the first couple early drives with just the energy. We just missed on a couple things. We’ve got to clean some of that stuff up, but I wouldn’t mind winning ugly all the way to the Super Bowl.”
And yet Rodgers said he wasn’t concerned about the way they’ve been winning.
“We’re finding ways to win,” Rodgers said. “That’s the most important thing. I think we’re learning a lot through the process. I know there’s a lot of conversation about the identity of the offense and all that stuff. We’re figuring it out week to week, I think. This week, we got Jimmy [Graham] going with a couple passes early, got Aaron Jones going in the run game. We were too inconsistent on first down, which put us in some holes, and we missed a couple throws and didn’t convert a couple third downs we had a chance to do, I fumbled on a two-minute drive and took points off the board. That all led to us not being able to put them away.”
Still, the Packers are assured of breaking a run of two straight losing seasons but after getting blown out by the 49ers last month and struggling to put away the Giants and Redskins in the ensuing weeks, there were plenty of questions about how far they can go. They have three games remaining — all against NFC North teams — beginning with the Bears (7-6) on Sunday and at the Vikings (9-4) in Week 16 on Monday Night Football before the finale at the Lions (3-9-1).
And then there’s whatever would come in the playoffs, including a potential rematch against the 49ers (11-2) or games against the Saints (10-3) or Seahawks (10-2).
As veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga said when asked how they can beat teams of that caliber playing the way they did on Sunday, “It’s definitely going to make it difficult to beat those [top] teams, let’s just put it that way. You go into division play — and we all know each other so well — we’re going to need to be better. And it starts this coming week with Chicago. We’re going to have to be better and perform better and just go back to work and clean things up.”
Like he’s done all year, LaFleur, who on Sunday set the Packers’ record for most wins by a first-year coach, put the blame squarely on himself.
“There’s stuff I’m sure I’m going to look at and be upset at myself about,” he said. “I’ve got to be better for this team.”
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