Best and Worst Potential Playoff Matchups for the Packers

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 15, 2021

Best and Worst Potential Playoff Matchups for the Packers

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers are in the ideal position in the NFC heading into Week 15. 

    They moved into the No. 1 seed on Monday night after the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Rams

    If the Packers win out, their path to the Super Bowl will go through Lambeau Field once again. But as we know from last season, that does not guarantee a NFC championship. 

    Green Bay would love to avoid Tom Brady at all costs and not have a repeat of last season's NFC Championship Game in which he tore apart the Packers secondary.

    The Packers' defensive back play has gotten better in 2021, but there are plenty of other teams they would rather face than the veteran quarterback and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Worst Matchup: Tampa Bay

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    No one wants to play Brady in late January or early February. 

    The Packers would welcome the challenge of playing the Buccaneers again if it happened, but there is always the chance that a repeat of last season occurs. 

    If the current standings hold, Tampa Bay would not face Green Bay until the NFC Championship Game, which would be held at Lambeau Field. 

    Brady had his way with the Green Bay secondary in last year's 31-26 victory, which forced the Packers to revamp that position. The additions of Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes have them better prepared for a potential showdown with the Bucs, but it is still the last matchup the NFC North leader will want. 

    Arizona has less playoff experience, Dallas could be vulnerable with the injuries in its rushing attack, and all of the other wild-card contenders have shown clear flaws during stretches of the season. 

    Tampa Bay is the most well-rounded team Green Bay would face in the postseason, and therefore it represents the worst matchup. 

Best Matchup: The Entire NFC East

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    The Packers should hope the NFC East gets at least two teams into the postseason. 

    That will become a reality if the Washington Football Team or Philadelphia Eagles win both of their head-to-head meetings in the next three weeks. 

    Washington and Philadelphia sit at 6-7 with only the Minnesota Vikings sitting in between them. The Vikings should beat the Chicago Bears twice in Weeks 15 and 18, but they also have to play the Los Angeles Rams and the Packers. 

    If Minnesota goes 2-2 in its final four games, Washington or Philadelphia have a good shot of earning the No. 7 seed. 

    The playoff picture would open up more for the NFC East if the San Francisco 49ers lose and move back level with the NFC East sides and the Vikings. 

    Green Bay would love to see Washington or Philadelphia in the first round if it dropped out of the No. 1 seed. 

    Taylor Heinicke and Jalen Hurts are both not 100 percent healthy, and neither team has the wide receiver depth that the division winners have. If Terry McLaurin or DeVonta Smith are shut down, the NFC East sides would have trouble moving the ball through the air. 

    The Dallas Cowboys would pose a bigger threat in the air, but it could struggle on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott is not completely healthy and Tony Pollard missed Sunday's win over Washington.

    If the Packers take away Elliott and force Dak Prescott to throw 40-50 times, they could force a few more mistakes out of the quarterback. 

    Green Bay would not see Dallas until the divisional round at the earliest. It is better suited to beat the Cowboys than the Buccaneers because Dallas has two primary options to cover in CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, while Tampa Bay could use four or five different stars to beat Green Bay through the air. 

Worst Matchup: Los Angeles Rams

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams might be the team no one wants to play in the NFC postseason. 

    They will be the No. 5 seed at worst as they hold a two-game edge over the 49ers in the wild-card race. 

    If the Cardinals hold on to the NFC West, the Rams could face the Packers in the divisional round if they beat the No. 4 seed and Green Bay holds on to the top seed. 

    Matthew Stafford would not be fazed by playing in the cold at Lambeau Field from his time with the Detroit Lions. He also has two dynamic wide receivers in Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. who can get free from the best cornerbacks in the game. 

    The Rams also have an experienced postseason running back in Sony Michel who could shoulder the load on the ground ahead of Darrell Henderson. 

    Sean McVay's team may also carry some extra motivation into Lambeau after last season's divisional-round loss. That defeat spurred a quarterback change through the Stafford-Jared Goff switch and there is no question the Rams' offense is better equipped for a deep postseason run this time around. 

    Green Bay already proved it could beat Arizona and could focus on stopping the run in a potential clash with the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers also have experience dealing with Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings, so that matchup would not scare them. 

    That leaves the Buccaneers and Rams as the two potential matchups that should trouble Green Bay the most.