Weeks ago, many of us counted the Green Bay Packers out of playoff contention when they were sitting at 3-6 after a road loss to the Detroit Lions. Now sitting at 8-8, the Packers control their opportunity to sneak into playoffs if they beat that same Detroit team, this time on their home field. Many analysts and other sorts of talking heads keep hammering the narrative that “no one wants to see this Packers team in the playoffs,” but is this really the case?
First Thing’s First
I’d first like to address the fact that before this game is even played, the Kansas City Chiefs will play a game against the Las Vegas Raiders one day before to kick off the final week of the regular season, and one thought will be on almost every viewer’s mind. Most of us will watch the first snaps of that football game with baited breath, terrified of the possibility of another unlikely accident like the one that happened with Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
It’s hard to write about this sport without thinking about the fact that these players are breaking down their bodies for our entertainment, but it’s impossible not to mention so at a time like this, as Hamlin remains in the hospital two full days after his horrific injury.
Our thoughts should first and foremost be with Hamlin and his family.
Are the Packers a Championship Caliber Team?
This question is one we ask no matter if the Packers are 9-8 or 13-4 entering the postseason, but it remains an important question nonetheless. We’ve seen the Packers play absurdly well given their current circumstances, but we’ve also seen them play absurdly bad (see their losses against the Jets or Lions for reference.)
Of course some of the Packers worst football is well behind them at this point in the season, but with season ending injuries to their best pass rusher and a starting cornerback, it seems like they’ve been missing some of the pieces that made them look like a powerhouse entering the season.
Of course backups are stepping in and playing well, and they’ve gotten relatively healthy at almost every other position since the two that I mentioned, so this team is still capable of playing with heart, and they could just be capable of beating anyone… maybe.
Who Are the Current Playoff Teams? Can the Packers Beat Them?
For reference, we’ll dive into six other NFC teams that will be in the playoffs if the Packers win this Sunday night, those teams being the Eagles, 49ers, Vikings, Bucaneers, Cowboys, and the Giants. As it stands the Packers are 3-3 on the season vs. these NFC playoff opponents, but there may be more to this stats than meets the eye.
The Green Bay Packers played the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in week 12, and they lost. Aaron Rodgers suffered what was said to be an oblique injury during the game and Jordan Love took over and ended up leading two scoring drives that turned out to net nothing more than garbage time points, as the game ended with a score of 33-40 in favor of the Eagles. Will this Eagles team be scared to see a full strength Aaron Rodgers who’s been playing better football as of late? We’ll count this one as a maybe.
The San Francisco 49ers look to have one of the most talented units in the NFL on both sides of the ball this season. Even with Brock Purdy at quarterback they’ve looked phenomenal since the addition of Christian McCaffrey, and they’ll be looking to get Deebo Samuel back at full health once playoffs roll around. The 49ers have had Green Bay’s number in the postseason, and perhaps it’s time for the Packers to get that monkey off their back, but if you compared rosters once it became time for the Packers to pull up to Levi’s Stadium, I promise there’s almost nothing for the 49ers to be scared about.
The Minnesota Vikings are 1-1 against the Packers this season with both games being significant blowouts. The Packers have been better recently, but the Vikings have an intimidating home field, and they’ll want revenge for week 17 if they face Green Bay in the playoffs. They certainly won’t be worried either.
There isn’t much to say here. The Packers had a week 3 win over the Buccaneers in Tampa and the Bucs have looked like a team that Green Bay could beat ever since. No Tom Brady team is ever really “scared” of anyone, but the Bucs would certainly be worried about a repeat of week 3. The main issue with this is that it is impossible for Green Bay to face Tampa in the wildcard or divisional round, and it is incredibly unlikely that both teams make a deep playoff push.
Yes. The answer is yes. The Dallas Cowboys would be absolutely horrified of playing the Packers in the postseason, but since the Cowboys likely won’t end up with the number one seed, this matchup wouldn’t be able to take place until the NFC Championship game. If this unlikely playoff matchup does indeed happen, pencil in the Dallas Cowboys to be shaking in their star-spurred-boots when they welcome the Packers to Jerry World.
The Giants are another team that is unlikely to ever see the Packers in the postseason. All things considered the Packers are a ton better now than when they dropped a winnable game against the Giants in London, and the Packers would have very good odds of winning this game on paper. In real life, the only way this matchup happens is if the Giants end up winning two road playoff games and then getting to host an NFC Championship against a team they’ve already beat this year. That momentum would be unprecedented, but as far as whether the Giants “don’t want to see the Packers,” well we’ll just count this one as a maybe as well
In total, there are two teams that probably don’t want to see the Packers, there are two teams that might not want to, and two that definitely won’t be scared to welcome Green Bay’s football team into their stadium when the NFL Playoffs roll around.
I’d say this narrative is roughly 50/50, and it exists for the sole purpose of downplaying Green Bay’s otherwise commendable ability to will themselves into the playoffs if they end up losing once they get there.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.