After winning six of their final eight games and Jordan Love reaching an MVP level in the second half of the season, the Green Bay Packers are earning respect around the league.
The Packers visit Mike McCarthy's Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Round, but they almost set up a rematch with the division-rival Detroit Lions. Had the San Francisco 49ers held on to beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18, Green Bay would've taken the No. 6 seed and headed to Ford Field to play Detroit.
Matt LaFleur's team lost emphatically to the Lions at Lambeau Field in Week 4, but they improved in all three phases with an upset win at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day.
Love threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers' victory over the Lions, igniting their red-hot finish to the season.
Lions star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown didn't want to meet the Packers in the NFC Wild Card Round.
Lions star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown says Packers are 'dangerous' in playoffs
The St. Brown brothers, Amon-Ra and Equanimeous, host a podcast for The 33rd Team. Their guest this week was Bears receiver DJ Moore, and they spoke about the Packers' win over Chicago in Week 18.
Interestingly, former Packer Equanimeous pointed out that Amon-Ra wanted to avoid Green Bay in the wild-card round.
"Amon, I understand why you didn't want to play the Packers," said Equanimeous St. Brown. "They didn't punt one time. Not one punt."
"I told you, they're good," Amon-Ra responded.
Equanimeous then asked Amon-Ra whether he thinks the Cowboys will beat the Packers.
"That's going to be a sick game. The Packers are dangerous," said Amon-Ra.
Amon-Ra St. Brown put up good numbers against Green Bay this season, catching 14 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown across the two games. But he has been impressed with what he has seen from the Packers.
And it's understandable why he sees them as a "dangerous" team. The Packers are playing with house money. They have exceeded expectations and enter the playoffs without the pressure on the top seeds.
Love has been outstanding, throwing 18 touchdowns and one interception with a 112.7 rating over the final eight weeks. As St. Brown saw on Thanksgiving Day, Green Bay's pass rush can wreck a game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Packers pressured Lions QB Jared Goff on 45 percent of his dropbacks. Joe Barry's defense forced three turnovers.
Green Bay aims to take down McCarthy's high-flying Cowboys on Sunday, while Detroit hosts another red-hot wild-card team, Matthew Stafford's Los Angeles Rams.
The Lions avoided the Packers in the first round, and they can't meet until the NFC Championship Game. What a contest that would be.