Unfortunately, the next opponent will be decided by the outcome of the Wildcard game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. And should the Packers win in Round 2, the matchup in Dallas will have further implications for the NFC Championship game.
So who do we Packers faithful root for? Let’s take a look at our options.
Dallas Cowboys (Third Seed)
As of right now, the Cowboys have become the clear favorites to win this week. They embarrassed the Eagles last Sunday by shutting them out in a 24-0 win. Philadelphia also has to chew on the fact that Dallas beat them on their home turf earlier in the regular season, which gives them even less chance of winning in the brand-spankin’ new Cowboys Stadium.
So we’ll take the Cowboys winning as the most likely scenario.
If both Dallas and Green Bay win this week, then the Packers will travel to the Louisiana Superdome to take on the Saints, while the Cowboys will face the Vikings in the Metrodome.
The first thing we want to ask is: “Can the Packers beat the Saints?”
Well, if you had asked anyone this question early on in the season, the answer probably would have been a resounding “NO!” But when the Saints gave up their perfect record to the Dallas Cowboys and started resting their starters, both their momentum and mystique were lost.
Additionally, if the Packers beat the Cardinals, then they will have proved they are a force to be reckoned with. And if they beat Arizona by a wide margin, then they could very well be unstoppable.
This, of course, is the point at which Saints fans will remind the Packers fans what happened on Monday Night Football, November 24, 2008, when New Orleans crushed the Packers by a score of 51-29.
If you remember that game, then I’m sure you’ve been trying hard to suppress it.
The Saints’ offense not only dominated the Green Bay Packers defense, moving the ball at will, but their defense picked off Rodgers three times and forced two fumbles.
It is a whole new year, and the Packers have what appears to be a whole new team, but I’m sure that every player in green and gold who played in the Superdome last year remembers the bitter taste in their mouth when leaving that night.
Perhaps in Round Two of the playoffs, Green Bay will exact it’s revenge against Drew Brees and company on a wave of recent success. That possibility is not that far off, and if it does happen, the NFC Championship game could be one to remember.
Because if the Packers come out of New Orleans victorious, and the Vikings defeat the Cowboys (the most likely scenario), then the NFC Championship game at the Metrodome will become the hands-down Game of the Year, and certainly more exciting than the Super Bowl.
And fans on both sides would relish this opportunity.
Philadelphia Eagles (Sixth Seed)
Let’s not rule out the Eagles, though. If hell freezes over...I mean, if they find their pride and get revenge on the Cowboys, then it will force the Packers and Vikings into their final showdown in Round Two.
While this game would undoubtedly be memorable, the glory of the NFC Championship title would be lost.
Both teams could end up watching the Super Bowl on high definition in the frozen tundra instead of traveling down to sunny Miami to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. The matchup would no longer be an all-or-nothing affair.
However, if you’re one of those fans who would rather play it safe, then the second week of the playoffs would probably give the Packers the best chance of beating Minnesota.
The Vikings would be coming back to their first game after a questionable December run and a bye week. It could easily take them part of the first half of the game to shake off some rust and catch their stride.
And the Packers could take advantage of this.
They would have both momentum and confidence in knowing that their team has improved leaps and bounds since their last meeting with the Vikings. Plus, that chip on their shoulder could prove to be a big motivator.
Let’s say—again, for the sake of argument—that Green Bay gets their revenge on Minnesota. Who do they meet up with in the NFC Championship game?
Well, I don’t know anyone outside of Philadelphia that wouldn’t pick the Saints to win in a Round Two matchup against the Eagles. Sure, anything can happen, especially if the Eagles were able to make it this far, but let’s be realistic.
The Green Bay Packers would again be fighting to avenge themselves and would be the true underdogs: a Wildcard team playing the No. 1 seed for the NFC Championship title.
Who to Root For?
Now that we understand the implications of this weekend’s outcome, it all comes down to this: who do Packers fans root for?
Personally, if I could decide which team wins this week, I would choose the Dallas Cowboys.
Sure, there is the off-chance that the Eagles could make it to the NFC Championships, giving the Packers homefield advantage, but I just don’t see both Wildcard teams making it that far.
Should Green Bay make it to the NFC Championship game, then they will most likely play both Minnesota and New Orleans on the way. The only question is which round will they play them in?
We could be satisfied playing the Vikings in Round Two, and it probably would be the best time to beat them if the Packers are going to.
But let’s live a little. Let’s add some fireworks to the playoffs.
If the Packers and Vikings meet again, it should be for the title of NFC Champions. Bragging rights will be secured until next season, and the last chapter of the Brett Favre Saga will be a wild one.
The only way for that to happen, though, is if the Cowboys win on Saturday.
(Oh, and the Packers need to win, too.)