Saturday's NFC Divisional Round matchup is the Green Bay Packers' most important game in two years, which coincidentally was their last battle with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Packers' season objectives are already met. They know what they have in Jordan Love. Their young offense has risen to the occasion. Anything else is a bonus. But beyond advancing to the NFC Championship Game, there's still a lot on the line for multiple players and coaches.
Green Bay's roster building will continue in the offseason. General manager Brian Gutekunst deserves credit for the talent he's added over the past two years, and the expectation is for this team to take another step forward in 2024.
These three Packers may need a strong performance in the divisional round to ensure they remain part of the team's long-term vision.
Head coach Matt LaFleur left no doubt about Anders Carlson's status for the remainder of the season. LaFleur praised Carlson for his "resiliency" and said they are "committed" to him. Publicly showing confidence in the Packers' rookie kicker is absolutely the correct decision, but will LaFleur's patience extend to 2024 if Carlson struggles in the divisional round?
It has been an up-and-down ride for Carlson in his rookie season. The main concern is that he has missed at least one kick in nine of the past 11 games. His six failed extra-point tries are a league-high, and he missed a PAT against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
LaFleur is right about Carlson's resiliency. He missed an extra point after the Packers' third touchdown last week. He easily could've crumbled under the pressure and struggled for the rest of the game, but the rookie converted his remaining four kicks.
Consistency is the issue. Carlson's missed kick didn't cost them against the Cowboys, but another miss could send the Packers home on Saturday night.