The Packers (13-3) finished the 2020 regular season with a decisive 35-16 victory in Chicago that allowed them to claim both the conference’s lone first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It also means for the second straight postseason they will have to wait for a week to learn who will meet them in their next game.
The Packers have only once before been the No. 1 seed during Aaron Rodgers’ 13 seasons as a starter — in 2011 when Eli Manning and the New York Giants ended their run as defending champions in the divisional round. The Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.
Here’s a look at how the NFC’s playoff bracket breaks down regarding the Packers along with some possible scenarios that could unfold in the coming weeks:
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Who & When Do Packers Play Next?
The Packers have the opportunity to rest and heal up until either Jan. 16 or 17 when their NFC divisional-round game will be played, but there are still four possible opponents who could rise to meet them at Lambeau Field as they begin postseason play.
Each conference’s top seed is destined to play the lowest-seeded team to advance out of wild-card weekend, meaning the Packers would face the winner between the No. 4 Washington Football Team (7-9) and the No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) if the other favorites won their respective matchups.
If the seventh-seeded Bears (8-8) manage to upset the two-seeded New Orleans Saints (12-4), however, the Packers would automatically draw their NFC North rival and be forced to face them for the third time since Nov. 29 in the divisional round.
A loss by Chicago and an upset win by the No. 6 Los Angeles Rams (10-6) over the No. 3 Seattle Seahawks (12-4) would also a similar effect. Since the Rams-Seahawks game is the first NFC wild-card matchup (Saturday at 3:40 p.m. CT) on the schedule, it is possible that L.A. wins and makes the No. 4/No. 5 battle irrelevant to the Packers for the divisional round.
While anything can happen in January football, a rematch against the Bucs seems to be the most likely scenario for the Packers heading into wild-card weekend. Revenge factors would certainly be at play after Green Bay suffered a 38-10 blowout in Tampa back in Week 6 coming out of their bye, but the circumstances would also be different with higher stakes and the Bucs also going up against Lambeau’s wintry climate.
The NFL will determine the kickoff times for the divisional games after all of the wild-card games have been played this weekend.
Who Else Could Packers Face if They Advance?
The Saints and Seahawks are the only two NFC opponents the Packers have no chance of seeing in the divisional round in two weeks, but either of them could fight their way into redemption territory if they win two games and see the Packers advance as well.
The Saints suffered a 37-30 loss to the Packers at home in Week 3 back in September and also conceded the No. 1 seed to them after a few losses down the stretch. While it would be a predictably colder rematch, a veteran showdown between Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers would be a sight to see with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
The Seahawks, too, would have additional motivation for going into Lambeau and coming away with a win after the Packers eliminated them from the playoffs last year in the divisional round. Of course, Green Bay has likely not forgotten about losing to Seattle in the conference championship during the 2014 playoffs, either. Should they meet again, it might be time to start recognizing their clashes as a rivalry.
In the event of either a No. 7 or No. 6 upset, there is also a possibility that Tom Brady and the Bucs could become the Packers’ opponent in the NFC title game. It would take Tampa Bay winning in both the wild-card and divisional rounds against higher-seeded squads (along with an aforementioned upset and a Packers win), but not impossible.