In his first playoff start, Jordan Love threw 3 TDs and posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating as the Green Bay Packers came into the Dallas Cowboys’ building and demolished them in a game that was not nearly as close as 48-32 final score suggests.

The youngest team to ever make the postseason is firing on all cylinders, in every facet. The defense has steadily improved over the last month, and against the Cowboys proved that their great performances against middling Vikings and Bears teams may not have been flukes. Joe Barry deserves credit for cooking up a great scheme to limit the Cowboys, especially the use of zone coverage and doubling to contain Ceedee Lamb.

I’m not sure Aaron Jones has ever looked this fresh and explosive this late into the season. Green Bay may have been able to pick up at least another win or two during the regular season had Jones been healthy, but his lingering issues throughout the year that kept him sidelined for a chunk of the campaign appear to be a sort of blessing in disguise now.

The most exciting part of it all is Jordan Love. Over the last eight games of the season, Love threw 18 TDs to just 1 INT and looked like one of the best QBs in the league. He’s continued that stretch into the playoffs, looking completely calm and in control of the offense while completing ridiculous passes off his back foot or no feet at all.

If it wasn’t becoming clear enough during the regular season, it’s officially official. Jordan Love’s performance against the Cowboys truly put the entire league on notice that, indeed, the Packers have done it again. Love’s ceiling is not just to be a star, but a superstar. The list of QBs playing as well as him right now is very, very short.

The Packers became the first 7th seed in NFL history to win a playoff game, guaranteeing them a ticket to visit the #1 seed in the conference. Unfortunately, this means playing not only one of the very top teams in the NFL, but one that strikes particular fear and bad memories in Packers fans. The San Francisco 49ers.

Green Bay did not lose to San Francisco throughout the entirety of the 2000s. The 49ers have mostly flipped the script from the 2010s to present day. San Fran, the organization that infamously passed up on the California-born and childhood ‘9ers fan Aaron Rodgers at #1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, presented demons to Rodgers-led Packers teams during his tenure – especially in the postseason.

In back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013, the Packers were eliminated by the 49ers. On top of that, Green Bay also played San Fran in the opening game of both of those same seasons. Colin Kaepernick notoriously ran for a QB-record 181 rushing yards and added 2 rushing TDs to end the 2012-2013 season, 45-31. After four-straight losses to the same team in the span of two seasons, the 49ers became a name that struck fear into any Packers fan.

The Packers would finally beat the Kaepernick-led ‘9ers in 2015, 17-3. The two franchises wouldn’t meet again until early in the 2018 season – a 33-30 win featuring one of the most memorable Rodgers game-winning drives of his career. Both of these wins were good for exercising demons, but were admittedly against some considerably weaker 49ers squads than the ones that owned Green Bay in the early 2010s.

Then, the Packers came face-to-face with the Kyle Shanahan-coached 49ers for the first time in 2019, one of the best 49ers teams of the last 10 years. Despite the Packers going 13-3 under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, a former pupil of Shanahan, Green Bay were utterly stomped in both the regular season (37-8) and postseason (37-20) matchups. Both games felt hopeless from the very beginning. Regardless of win-loss record, the gap between the two teams could not have been apparently wider.

The 37-20 loss in the NFC Championship game, in particular, was so doomed from the beginning that I remember the blowout not being that painful. It ranks fairly low on the list of heartbreaking Packers playoff losses during the Rodgers era. This is to say – man, the 49ers owned them so, so bad, and were a much, much better team. It was really hard to even be mad. Raheem Mostert ran for over 200 yards and scored 4 TDs.

Finally, in the playoffs of the 2021 season – the last truly great year with Rodgers at the helm, winning his fourth MVP – there couldn’t have been a more fitting end. The Packers hosted the 49ers in, of course, the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The crushing 13-10 loss would prove to be the last playoff game Rodgers ever suited up for as a Packer, as fans got to watch him lose yet again to the team that ended four of his playoff runs.

Whether it be Jim Harbaugh or Shanahan for the ‘9ers, and Mike McCarthy or Matt LaFleur for the Packers, the 49ers have dominated the Packers in the playoffs for over a decade.

And now, just two seasons after the last playoff defeat to San Francisco, the Packers get another shot at them, once again in the Divisional Round. The circumstances surrounding the 49ers are eerily familiar – the 49ers claimed the top seed in the NFC, looking like the very best team in the entire NFL for a majority of the season, led by Kyle Shanahan and their new potential franchise QB Brock Purdy.

Though the Packers just crushed the Cowboys, here’s a fun fact for reference – the 49ers beat the Cowboys 42-10 in October of this season. Dallas were a good team this season, but the 49ers have been on a whole different level.

Of course, this is a very different Packers team than the four others that have blown it in the playoffs against the 49ers over the last decade-plus. A magic around this team seems to be forming, a feeling different than one that surrounded any of the Packers teams that lost to the 49ers in 2012, 2013, 2019 or 2021. In fact, I’d argue at least three of those Green Bay teams felt destined for disappointment at a point earlier than the playoffs.

There’s an exciting unpredictability to this new Green Bay team. This is different than previous years in the sense that, while I am nervous and am beginning to emotionally prepare for a loss, I don’t feel hopeless. Neither should any Packers fan, especially after the shocking result that was the Cowboys game.

This team might not be ready yet to take on a veteran powerhouse like the 49ers, but I’m not counting anything out just yet. Whether Jordan Love and the Packers can break this playoff curse is to be seen this Saturday.


Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.