Mike McCarthy has called the Green Bay Packers' matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday a "semifinal game," as reported by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and that's exactly what it is.
All the team needs to remember in the final two weeks of the season is this: win and they're in.
It's important to put the Packers' last two wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys into perspective. They were hard-fought victories, each won by just one point...and they were against two of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Though the Steelers defense is certainly not the formidable unit it was last season or even back in 2011 when these two teams met in the Super Bowl, it will present more problems for the Packers than the Falcons or Cowboys did. Pittsburgh is No. 8 in passing defense, and though up front it's been leaky at times, it's gotten a boost from the unexpected success of Jason Worilds.
Troy Polamalu, whom the Steelers move all over the field, is impossible to pin down, while the Packers' secondary, though coming off two confidence-boosting performances, still needs help. It will have one of its biggest challenges of the season in trying to cover Antonio Brown.
The following four matchups, ranked in order of least effect on the final outcome of the game to most, will determine whether the Packers can continue to control their own destiny or be forced to watch the playoffs from home come January.