The Green Bay Packers are having a memorable season, as they should have home-field advantage sewn up by the time they take the field on Christmas night. But the Packers are a battered football team that has to play smart in the final two weeks of the season.
Other playoff contenders are hoping to play a complete game against them and end the Packers’ hope for another Super Bowl title.
Here are the potential playoff teams that match up best against the Green Bay Packers.
Too many teams have underestimated the San Francisco 49ers, as their season reminds me of the Arizona Cardinals' road to the Super Bowl a few years ago. No one expected them to win a playoff game let alone appear in the final game of the season.
The Niners have a defense that can neutralize the Pack Attack, as rookie defender Aldon Smith has become a top-flight pass-rusher. Green Bay will have to double-team him, with hopes that this will neutralize his pass-rushing skills.
Offensively, you’re seeing that it was never all about ability with QB Alex Smith, but rather it was all about confidence. RB Frank Gore will have to cut down on dropping screen passes that could stretch the Packer defense.
The New Orleans Saints are the hottest team in the NFL, as their fans believe this year’s version of the Saints is better than the 2009 Super Bowl champs. TE Jimmy Graham and RB Darren Sproles have been huge upgrades over RB Reggie Bush and TE Jeremy Shockley in the offense. The Saints are selfless and the true definition of the word “team,” but their one major concern is a lack of creating turnovers defensively.
The Saints can score points, but head coach Sean Payton is afraid to keep his defense on the field. The cornerback play has been poor all season, as Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter must go back to playing bump-and-run rather than giving receivers a 10-yard cushion off the line of scrimmage.
If they could force turnovers like the Niners, then the Saints would be unstoppable.
For true Detroit Lions fans, this season has been a godsend. Finally, they’re an equal to the elite franchises in the NFL and have a legitimate shot of winning 10 games this year.
The Lions aren’t a finesse team, as they will beat you with smashmouth football. Yeah, the stupid penalties will annoy you, but the Lions have had some memorable fourth-quarter comeback wins.
Their menacing defensive front of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Corey Williams must pressure Packers QB Aaron Rodgers or expect him to throw deep early and often. They also love throwing the football to their backs coming out of the backfield thus forcing the linebackers to be perfect in making open-field tackles.
The Atlanta Falcons seem to be peaking at the right time of the season, as their play has been outstanding.
To beat the Packers, they must hold Rodgers under 300 yards passing, as the DBs must have great coverage against their talented receiving corp. Also, the front seven must hit and wrap up Rodgers early and often.
Offensively, the Falcons must cut down the penalties and dropped passes. The play-calling must be creative and very opportunistic, with QB Matt Ryan making the right on-field adjustments that counter what the defense is doing. Also, he must be successful throwing deep downfield if the Falcons are going to advance in the playoffs.
Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys match up well against the Packers, as they have fast wide receivers and a consistent running game. If QB Tony Romo has the confidence to throw the football, then this team is unstoppable and hard to beat.
The Pack cannot solely focus on their passing game, as they could have a field day running the football on the Cowboys defense. RB Ryan Grant could have huge gaps to run through between the tackles. The linebackers cannot forget to cover TE Jermichael Finley or he will put up big receiving yardage numbers. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his defense must show that they have a mean streak in them if they are going to defeat the Packers.