Packers: Five players to watch in the NFC Championship Game

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Ugly or pretty, it hasn’t mattered, the Green Bay Packers keep on winning. Which players will ensure that continues and send the Packers to the Super Bowl?

Even in most people’s wildest dreams, no one could have predicted the Packers and their rookie head coach would make it this far. Even the utmost optimist’s expectations wouldn’t have put the Packers in the NFC title game.

Yet, here we are. The Packers back in the NFC Championship Game for the first time in three years. On the strength of a harassing defense, a strong running game and a veteran quarterback that doesn’t turn the ball over, the Packers are on the doorstep of going back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2010 season.

The team on the other sideline is one the Packers are all too familiar with. The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers have a storied history against one another. Since the mid-90s, these teams have faced each other in some memorable battles. The Packers started out that rivalry dominating the 49ers, only losing once in their first six meetings. Since then, the 49ers have been on the winning side taking the last two playoff meetings.

Outside of maybe a handful of players, there isn’t much carryover from their last two postseason showdowns.

Recent history also hasn’t been kind to the Packers. In Week 12 of this year, the Packers went out to Santa Clara and got handed their worst defeat of the season. The 49ers, led by their smothering defense, whooped the Packers in just about every phase with a 37-8 victory.

After that beat down, coach Matt LaFleur admitted the team came out flat and he got away from the run game too quickly. An injury to Bryan Bulaga allowed an already dangerous defense attack Aaron Rodgers with little time to throw and the result was one of Rodgers’ worst performances of his career.

Much has changed since that meeting in November. The Packers are riding a six-game winning streak and aren’t looking to stop now.

Outside of Packer Nation, it’s hard to find anyone giving the Packers a chance. But that’s ok. This team likes it that way.

The Packers have a daunting task at hand. But if these five players can play at the top of their game, the Packers could be looking at a chance for their fifth Super Bowl trophy.