The Green Bay Packers are in comfortable position to clinch a playoff spot in Week 13. With a perfect 11-0 record, the Packers hold a two-game lead over the rest of the NFC and a four-game lead within the NFC North.
With the Packers all but officially in the playoffs, it is time to look at the worst-case scenarios for matchups that they may potentially face in the playoffs. With the playoff picture shaping up, the San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and New York Giants are all pushing towards the playoffs. The Packers could face any of these teams in the 2011 playoffs.
The Packers have been untouchable so far this season and will rightfully be favored against any team in the league, but there are teams out there in the NFC that will challenge the Packers given the opportunity.
Before Jay Cutler went out of the lineup with his broken thumb, the Bears were the biggest threat to knocking off the Packers at Lambeau. With Cutler missing at least the next three weeks, the Bears will be challenged to even make the playoffs.
Going back to last season and earlier this year, the Bears know their rivals extremely well and play a physical style that has limited the Packers' offensive success.
If Cutler can come back healthy and get back into the groove he was playing in before injuring his thumb, this is a Bears team that could compete with the Packers. They would most likely have to play a flawless game to beat Green Bay, but they would certainly make the Packers work.
Coming off a horrendous year last season, the 49ers have been one of the most curious and surprising teams this year. After a hot start, they have proved they are legit with tough wins over the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants. They showed they aren't quite there yet as they fell in a competitive game against the Baltimore Ravens.
In order to beat the Packers, the opposing team must keep Aaron Rodgers off the field as much as possible. The 49ers have a formidable running game behind Frank Gore that is capable of sustaining long drives.
In addition to running the ball, the 49ers must take care of the football in order to take down the Packers. The 49ers' stout defense could create some problems for the Packers, but they lack the secondary to compete with Rodgers' receivers.
Drew Brees and the Saints are putting on a show for the rest of the league lately. With their domination of the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, they made a statement that they are ready for a rematch with the Packers.
There aren't many offenses in the league that can hang with the Packers, but the Saints are definitely one of them with the incredible play of Brees. Through 11 games, Brees has thrown for 3,689 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 70.2 percent of his passes.
While he hasn't outperformed Rodgers to this point in the season, Brees gives the Saints a chance to beat anybody, including the Packers. With the two most powerful offenses in the league on display, the game would almost certainly turn into a shootout. With Rodgers playing at another level and the Packers' opportunistic defense, they should still be able to pull it out.