NFL Playoff Predictions: Packers Will Have a Cake Walk to the Super Bowl

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers participates in warm-ups before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are the number one seed in the NFC for a reason.

You don't got 15-1 with one fluke loss over a subpar Kansas City Chiefs squad by accident.

You go 15-1 because you have an elite team. 

The NFC has certainly produced some solid challengers for the Packers thus far this year. Their next opponent, the New York Giants, gave Green Bay a close call this year in Week 13.

However, the Giants left too much time on the clock at the end of the game and Aaron Rodgers was able to put together a game winning drive resulting in a 38-35 victory. 

The Giants are certainly playing some great football coming in to this rematch with the Packers. They just steamrolled the Atlanta Falcons last weekend and Eli Manning looked to be at the top of his game.

Still, I don't believe that Giants have what it takes to dethrone the Packers as the favorites in the NFC.

In order to beat Green Bay, the Giants would need a perfect game from Eli Manning. A pick-six in their Week 13 matchup to Clay Matthews ended up being a huge momentum swing.

Manning can be incredibly inconsistent when it comes to turnovers and I don't see him having another perfect game in him against the Packers.

The other two teams left in the NFC side of the playoffs are the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. Only one of these teams will advance to the NFC championship game. 

However, regardless of which team it is the Packers match up well with them.

New Orleans is becoming a popular pick around the league thanks to the fantastic play of Drew Brees. Brees may be the hottest quarterback in the league at this point.

There is no denying that he is one of the best in the league and should be considered a threat to any team.

The biggest issue for the Saints is the Packers are built to beat them. Both teams are incredibly similar defensively with average to above average run defense and terrible passing defense.

We saw Week 1 of the season that Aaron Rodgers and company could certainly handle the pressure of keeping up on the scoreboard with Drew Brees.

The Packers beat the Saints 42-34 and looked great doing it. There is no reason to believe that Rodgers couldn't outscore Brees again regardless of how well he is playing.

The 49ers have the best defense left in the playoffs. Coach Jim Harbaugh has done an amazing job of turning that team around from a poor season in 2010 and many experts like their chances to beat the elite offenses of the NFC.

As good as that young defense is, I am not buying it.

The 49ers have the best run defense in the league, but that isn't Green Bay's game. The 49ers are ranked 16th overall in passing defense which is nowhere near dominate enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers passing attack will not be slowed and points will be put on the board early.

The biggest factor in that potential matchup is not so much the 49ers inability to completely stop Rodgers, it is their inability to keep up on the scoreboard.

San Francisco is ranked 29th in the league in passing and there is no way Alex Smith will be able to keep up with Rodgers. He has made great strides as a quarterback this year, but he isn't the kind of quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns.

The 49ers strength on offense is their powerful rushing attack led by Frank Gore. However, the bigger the difference on the scoreboard, the less you can use your running game.

I see the Packers getting up early and forcing Alex Smith to win the game, which he won't be able to do.

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 14:  Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers rests on the bench during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Vikings 45-7.  (Photo by Jonath
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Don't get me wrong: I believe that all three of these teams are talented. They all belong in the playoffs and certainly deserve recognition as elite. 

I just don't believe that they are on the same level as Green Bay.

The Packers managed to overcome having the worst passing defense in the league to capture the number one seed in the NFC. As bad as being ranked last in the league in anything looks, it seems that it is a flaw they can continue to get past.

The worst three passing defenses in the league are still in the playoffs and I don't see it becoming a huge factor with the way the NFL rules are today.

On top of that, Green Bay will have a built in advantage in every game they play.

Anyone they play will have to travel to Lambeau Field, one of the toughest stadiums to travel to in the league. The Packers have one of the best home field advantages in football and it will be tough on any team that faces them to overcome that crowd.

With the deck already stacked against the rest of the NFC, I don't see anyone pulling off the upset against the Packers.

Matching an MVP level quarterback with tons of elite weapons and a defense that makes big plays at the right time is a championship combination.

It is a combination that will lead the Packers straight to their second straight Super Bowl appearance.