Can Packers’ First Round Bye Get Them Back to Super Bowl?01/06/2022 • By Jared Prugar
After defeating the Vikings in Week 17, Green Bay secured the NFC’s #1 seed. The Packers’ first round bye ensures that the Super Bowl will go through the Frozen Tundra. Historically speaking, Lambeau Field in January was a place no opponent wanted to see. But throughout Aaron Rodgers‘ career, the Packers are only 5-3 at Lambeau Field in the postseason. And of course, Rodgers’ only Super Bowl in 2010 came with the Packers as the #6 seed – winning 3 games on the road. Rodgers said this week that he believes in momentum, when speaking in reference to playing Week 18 against the Lions. The common adage of “getting hot at the right time” makes sense in theory, but reality shows a little differently.
The Bucs were able to accomplish the same feat as the 2010 Packers, going on the road for the entirety of the postseason. But even with them included, 15 of the last 16 Super Bowl participants have had a bye. Obviously, this also changed last year due to the new play-off format with only a single team receiving a bye. But the extra week of rest is clearly vital at the end of a long season. The Packers are seemingly close to getting some key players back into the fold, and an extra week of rest makes that more likely. It also will give Aaron Rodgers and others who have battled through nagging injuries an opportunity to be closer to 100%.
The rest vs. rust argument is one that gets brought up every postseason. For as good as Matt LaFleur’s first three seasons have been, the Packers have surprisingly struggled off of byes – at least in the regular season. The Packers are 1-2 with a point differential of -42 in the regular season under Matt LaFleur. Now, those results turned in the postseason, where the Packers are 2-0 off a bye under LaFleur.
Getting out of the divisional round has been no issue for the Packers, but the NFC championship is another story. The Packers are – very famously – 1-4 in NFC championship games in Rodgers career. The Packers will hope that this season can turn the tide. Last season was the first that the Packers were able to host the conference title game, but obviously because of Covid-19, the true home-field advantage was minimal. But Green Bay finished the regular season this year undefeated at Lambeau Field, and are a dominant 24-3 at home (including the postseason) since LaFleur was hired.
What it boils down to – the Packers are two wins at Lambeau Field away from returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 11 years. They have to feel good giving Jaire Alexander, Za’Darius Smith, and David Bakhtiari all an extra week of rest and rehab. And with Rodgers playing at an MVP level once again, they have to like their odds no matter who comes in to Green Bay.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.