How Does Green Bay Match Up Against Potential Playoff, Super Bowl Opponents?
The Green Bay Packers would travel to play the New York Giants in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs if the season ended today. With a 6-3 record, the Packers would finish fifth in the NFC and be awarded the first wild-card spot.
With seven games left on the schedule, the Packers control their own playoff destiny. They need some help in the NFC North, but if the last two years have taught us anything, it's that seeding isn't necessarily the most important thing.
Many of the potential playoff matchups would be rematches from this season and even some from the final seven weeks. Based on how this season has gone, it's clear the Packers can beat any team in the NFL, but they've shown they can also lose any game as well.
The potential playoff and Super Bowl opponents are based on current playoff seedings. The first four teams are in the NFC and the top two AFC teams are analyzed.
New York Giants
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While the Packers will have a chance to get some revenge against the New York Giants in Week 12, they will be looking for full revenge in the playoffs. The Week 12 meeting should provide a nice preview if the teams get the desired matchup.
Offensively, the Packers have the personnel to line up and beat the Giants defense, provided they give Aaron Rodgers time to throw. This was the case in the regular season matchup last year. The big difference in last year's playoff game was Green Bay's turnovers. The Packer offense can score against the Giants' defense but needs to take care of the football.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants thrive off big plays and fourth-quarter comebacks. The Packers would need Morgan Burnett and the rest of the secondary to be on its game and not let Victor Cruz and Co. behind them.
The other key would be taking advantage of Eli Manning's mistakes. He will give the defensive backs chances and they need to catch them.
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Opposite of the Giants, the Atlanta Falcons would be the ones looking for revenge against Green Bay after the Packers dominated Atlanta in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
While that game was a one-sided shootout, a playoff game this season could be a much more balanced shootout.
Atlanta has the offense to put up points against any defense, including the Packers. The Packers need a healthy Charles Woodson to help out on Tony Gonzalez while Tramon Williams and either Sam Shields, Casey Hayward or Davon House must hold their own against Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The Packers are capable of shutting down the receivers, but it starts with getting pressure on Matt Ryan. Most likely, the Falcons will put up points.
The Packers offense would need to be firing on all cylinders against the Falcons. While the Falcons offense is looking very strong, the defense continues to be the weak link. Rodgers tore up their secondary in the playoffs two years and will likely need to do the same.
San Francisco 49ers
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A lot has changed for both teams since they met in the season opener on September 9. At times, either team has looked like the class of the NFC; at other moments, both have looked far removed from last season's success.
The Packers would need to be able to run the ball and make things easier for Aaron Rodgers if the offense is going to put up points. They struggled mightily on the ground in the first meeting with Rodgers leading the team with 27 rushing yards and Benson adding 18. With a better rushing attack, the Packers should be able to do more offensively.
Defensively, the Packers should be able to match up well against the San Francisco 49ers offense. They have the talent at cornerback to shut down the 49ers receivers. If they can stop the run, they should be able to limit the effectiveness of Alex Smith, especially if they get pressure.
The key to this game would be to start the game fast, something the Packers haven't done well this season. The 49ers are tailor-made to play with a lead and have struggled this season when playing from behind.
An early lead against the 49ers would be huge.
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The rival Chicago Bears are 7-1 and looking like a legitimate threat in the NFC.
Another playoff game would just add to the hatred and intensity of the rivalry. Before the teams can look forward to a playoff matchup, however, they play each other in Week 15.
In the first matchup, the Packers looked like the better team from opening kickoff to the final seconds of the game. Many things have since changed and both teams look very different. The Bears defense has turned back time and is playing like a youthful bunch. Meanwhile, the Bears offense is in a nice rhythm and staying relatively healthy.
As with any matchup with the Jay Cutler-led Bears, the key is stopping the run and forcing Cutler to beat them. He hasn't done so consistently in the past, often struggling against the Packers defense. Matt Forte is the big concern, whose impressive play has opened up the whole Bears offense.
The Bears defense has been phenomenal this season. The Packers offense found success against Chicago because it was very balanced. Cedric Benson did well running the football while Aaron Rodgers spread out his passes to nine different players.
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The Packers took their early season frustrations out on the Houston Texans earlier this year, and I'm sure the Texans would love another chance at Green Bay. The Packers match up pretty nicely against the Texans on both sides of the ball.
Aaron Rodgers had his way with the Texans secondary as the Packers' offensive line found a way to keep J.J. Watt relatively quiet. In addition to Rodgers putting on a show, the Packers were able to run the ball well enough to maintain some balance.
Defensively, the Packers have been strong against the run at times this season. They did a wonderful job against Arian Foster and Ben Tate, limiting them to 43 yards on 20 carries. The Packers would need to do a similar job to beat the Texans again.
The Packers have the advantage on offense while the Texans have the advantage on defense. The Packers made the most of it the first time around, but a second matchup could go either way.
New England Patriots
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A matchup of No. 12s, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, would make a fabulous Super Bowl. Both players would have to have put on quite the offensive performances to help their teams reach the Super Bowl.
The Packers offense would match up well against the Patriots' battered defense as long as Aaron Rodgers had time to throw the ball. The Patriots don't have the corners to match up with the multitude of weapons the Packers possess.
Defensively, the Packers have the defensive backs to cover the Patriots receivers, but Rob Gronkowski would likely be a huge problem as the Packers have struggled against tight ends in the recent past.
Another key is limiting how much time Brady has to pass. If he can sit back comfortably, the Packers corners won't be able to stay in coverage long and Brady will slice them up.