Sunday’s game can set the course for the Green Bay Packers’ post-season.
Win or lose Sunday verses the Minnesota Vikings the Packers are in the NFC Playoffs. Packer fans, however, want and expect a victory. If the Packers indeed deliver a W it will ensure the second seed playoff spot and a first round playoff bye, as well as the NFC Divisional Game at Lambeau Field. All this creates optimal circumstances to set up a trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.
If, by chance, the Vikings defeat the Packers on Sunday the two teams would play again the following week in Green Bay. If the Packers would then defeat the Vikings they would play the 49ers in San Francisco. This is less than an ideal situation for sure.
Last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss to the Giants is a sure reminder that home playoff games don’t guarantee victories or trips to the Super Bowl. But odds are almost always in Green Bay’s favor at home on the frozen tundra. It really comes down to the Packers playing focused and coming to play in every game going forward. They certainly have the talent, depth, and coaching to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to its rightful place in Green Bay.
Also on the side of the Packers is for one of the first times all season they are healthy, or at least relatively healthy. Going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings the only players most likely unavailable who are not on injured reserve are James Starks and Charles Woodson. On the fence for Sunday’s contest are Randall Cobb and Davon House. Despite some key players still on the mend, returning are Jordy Nelson, CJ Wilson, Jerel Worthy and Alex Green. Provided there are no new injuries against the Vikes, the Packers look to roll into the playoffs healthy and with a full head of steam.
Packer fans believe that their team can compete with any in the NFL. This is not merely wishful thinking. The Packers have quite possibly the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Their offense is intriguing. Outside of Rodgers there is not necessarily another dominating player, or players. But there are a number of guys that rise to the occasion when their number is called. Randall Cobb has been a pleasant surprise and consistent all season. A healthy Jordy Nelson is a deep threat on the outside. Greg Jennings is finally healthy and he and Rodgers are working on their timing. James Jones has been amazing all season, especially in the red zone. Jermichael Finley has been putting up numbers that were expected early on in the season. And the running backs have been taking turns doing what needs to be done.
The defense is much improved over last year’s sieve-like unit. With the solid play of a number of rookies throughout, consistent play of key veterans like AJ Hawk and BJ Raji, and spectacular performances by Clay Matthews III the defense has held opponents at bay and at times bailed out the offense. A unit that may not be dominating, but with the offense scoring more than 26 points per game they should be able to keep the Packers’ opponents in check.
I have a good feeling about Sunday’s game against the Vikings. I also feel good about the Packers making it to the Super Bowl. The team that gets hot and gels this time of year often ends up with the Lombardi Trophy.
It seems to be a bit early to predict a Super Bowl Championship, but I think the odds favor the Packers.
For now, however, one game at a time, the most important game is in Minnesota against the Vikings Sunday, Dec. 30.