The Packers are 15-1 and clinched the top seed in the NFC two weeks ago, meaning they get a break this weekend and will not have to play until Jan. 15.
After Week 17 in the NFL ended last night, the playoff picture has crystallized and there are three potential opponents the Packers could face in the first round of the playoffs: the No. 4 seed New York Giants, who won the NFC East on Sunday Night and who the Packers beat on Dec. 4 in a wild 38-35 win.
The Packers might also face one of the two Wild Card teams, both of which they also faced this year. These are the Atlanta Falcons, whom they beat 25-14, and the Lions, whom they beat twice. The first on Thanksgiving and then again on New Year's Day.
Here is my evaluation of the three remaining opponents that could travel to Lambeau Field and face the Packers along with their chances of pulling off an upset.
The New York Giants are the winners of the NFC East, the No. 4 seed and quite possibly the biggest competition the Packers could face in the divisional round.
The Giants have a 9-7 record, but have won some big games this year, defeating the Dallas Cowboys twice, the New England Patriots at home and their intra-city rival the New York Jets. They also were very close to beating the Packers, losing in a 38-35 shootout in New York.
The Giants can be a wildly inconsistent football team, which could be a good thing for the more consistent Packers. If the Packers catch the Giants on a good day, they can be hard to stop. Of course, nobody can forget who the last team was to beat the Packers in Lambeau Field during the playoffs: the Giants in 2007, a team that went on to win the Super Bowl.
The Atlanta Falcons beat the Packers in the regular season in 2010, but the Packers blew the doors off the Georgia Dome in the divisional round in the playoffs, routing them 48-21. The Packers then beat the Falcons again in Week 5 of this season, overcoming a 14-point deficit to win the game, 25-14.
The Falcons are another inconsistent football team, and while they have beat up on inferior opponents this year, they haven't been able to win against the stronger teams of the NFL, falling to the Saints twice, as well as the Packers and Texans. In fact, the only playoff team they have defeated this year is the Detroit Lions.
However, my biggest concern about the Falcons is that they have a great offense led by Matt Ryan that can score a lot of points. They might even have the ability to match the Packers score for score. However, they may find it harder to do so in Lambeau Field than they would in the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons are certainly a good team that cannot be overlooked, having an explosive offense that could give the Packers a run. Another factor to consider: revenge. The Falcons were embarrassed at home by the Packers last year, so they will be quite motivated to return the favor this year.
The Detroit Lions started off with a 5-0 record, their best start since 1956. After this though, the wheels came off for a while, as they fell to the Falcons, Bears, 49ers and Packers. However, they were able to pick things up again at the end of the season, defeating the Vikings, Raiders and Chargers to clinch their first playoff berth in more than a decade.
The Packers have beaten the Lions twice this year, but the Lions have given them a run both times, stopping their offense for much of the first half on Thanksgiving and on New Year's Day, matching them score for score in a wild 45-41 loss.
The Lions would have to win in the Superdome if they were to face the Packers in Lambeau in the divisional round, making it a very difficult road for them to get to the Super Bowl. However, if they beat the Saints in the Wild Card round, they will be sure to come in with a lot of momentum, making them a scary opponent if the Packers were to face them for a third time.
The NFC playoff race is tough this year, as all three of these opponents have a legitimate shot to beat the Packers. All three teams have solid offenses that could potentially match the Packers score for score. In a shootout, it could be anyone's game.
The Giants might be the most scary playoff matchup for the Packers, considering they are solid on both sides of the ball and have played the best against the Packers this season between the three opponents. However, they are an inconsistent team that has lost a lot of bad games. The frequent mistakes they make in games could be easily exploited by the Packers.
The Falcons and the Lions have both been beaten in the last two meetings with the Packers, but they are very familiar with the team and both are certainly motivated to knock the top-seeded team from the playoffs, especially considering the recent history between the teams.
Regardless of the opponent, the Packers will have a tough matchup ahead of them. While I think they will win, all three of these teams have the capacity to beat the Packers, as anything could happen on any given Sunday.