The Green Bay Packers clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but it took until San Francisco’s 26-21 win over Seattle later in the night for their postseason fate to become completely clear.
Once the dust settled, the Packers (13-3) were left with the No. 2 seed in the NFC behind the 49ers (13-3) and will now not play until 6:40 p.m. ET on Jan. 12 in the divisional round of the playoffs, giving them a much-needed extra week to nurse some of their injured contributors before beginning their postseason campaign. The Packers’ first game will also be within the friendly confines of Lambeau Field against whichever wild-card team emerges to face them.
Here’s a closer look at the Packers’ place in the 2019 NFL playoffs, including which opponents they could host for their first game in the second round in two weeks.
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Who Could the Packers Play in Their First Playoff Game?
The Packers will have a watchful eye on both of next week’s wild-card games, which will be the No. 4 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) hosting the No. 5 Seattle Seahawks (11-5) and the No. 6 Minnesota Vikings (10-6) visiting the No. 3 New Orleans Saints (13-3). The lowest winning seed among the quartet of teams will then advance to face the 49ers (13-3), while the other will travel to Lambeau Field.
The Vikings are the best-known opponent in the bunch as the Packers have faced them and beat them twice this season, including Week 16’s division-clinching win in Minnesota, but don’t get your hopes up. The Vikings would need to win against both the Saints and 49ers to have a shot at the Packers in the conference championship, as a win would make them the lowest remaining seed and force them into a divisional matchup with top-seeded San Francisco.
If the Vikings win, the Packers would face the winner of the Seahawks-Eagles game as both have higher seeds. The Eagles were behind the Packers’ first loss of the season, and it came at Lambeau Field during a game where Green Bay also lost Davante Adams for a month to a turf toe injury. The revenge factor there would be obvious.
If Drew Brees and the Saints win against the Vikings, they would automatically slot into a second-round matchup with the Packers. Green Bay’s defense has a recognizable deficiency when it comes to stopping the run, so playing their first game against a lackluster rushing attack leans in their favor. Aaron Rodgers will have to be sharper than in the regular-season finale to prevail in a passing battle with Brees, though.
The Seahawks could also face the Packers in the second round if they handle the Eagles and watch the Saints lose to the Vikings on the other side of the bracket. Though the two teams didn’t meet in the regular season, there are enough common opponents between them to qualify the Seahawks as one of the most challenging opponents in the field for the Packers.
Who Else Could the Packers Face in the Postseason?
The road to the Super Bowl could potentially go through another of the NFC’s most successful teams if the Packers are able to win and reach the conference championship.
If the Packers win their second-round game, they could be looking at a semifinal game on the road against the top-seeded 49ers, where they lost spectacularly in Week 12 coming out of the bye week. Aaron Rodgers did say he believed the Packers would need to win once in the 49ers’ venue, which would be the case if both of the NFC’s top seeds won their first playoff games.
The possibility of getting a do-or-die rematch against the 49ers should be appealing to Packers fans who want them to prove themselves better than their lowest moments this season, but there is also perhaps no better challenge than San Francisco with a Super Bowl berth on the line.