No matter what you thought about the Green Bay Packers’ most recent loss to the New England Patriots, one thing is for certain: their playoff season effectively begins this Sunday. From here on out, any loss will mark the immediate end of their Super Bowl aspirations.
Only two regular season games remain on the schedule for the Green Bay Packers (8-6). The first is a showdown with the shell-shocked New York Giants (9-5). The second and final game is a rematch with this year’s recently-crowned NFC North champions, the Chicago Bears (10-4).
And neither matchup will be anything close to a walk in the park.
Week 16: NEW YORK GIANTS
After an embarrassing last-minute loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants suddenly find themselves in basically the same situation as the Packers. If they win this Sunday’s game, then they claim a pass into the postseason. If they lose, their chances become very slim (though not completely out of reach).
One of two things will happen in this game: (1) the Giants will march into Lambeau Field with a gigantic chip on their shoulder and give Green Bay the game of the season, or (2) they will be so demoralized that the first sign of adversity will make them spiral into shame.
If I’m Mike McCarthy, I’m preparing my team for the first (and worst) set of circumstances.
This will be the first meeting of the Giants and Packers since the fateful 2007 NFC Championship game, and though some of the players and coaches have changed, there will be many on the field who remember vividly what happened on that cold January day.
Week 17: CHICAGO BEARS
It wasn’t too long ago that the fans and media were viewing this game as the deciding factor in who would win the NFC North.
My how things have changed.
After the Green Bay Packers’ embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears secured their hold on the NFC North title with an overwhelming victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. Now that they’re in the playoffs, the Bears’ next objective is to secure a first-round bye as the second seed.
In order to do this, a win against the Packers is critical for them.
Even if the Week 17 game didn’t mean anything for the Chicago Bears chances at a bye, you can bet that Lovie Smith would love nothing more than to sweep Green Bay this season. His priority as head coach has pretty much been to beat the Packers, and I don’t see that changing, even with the circumstances. Besides, I doubt Smith would want to face the Packers again in the first week of the post-season, even if it would be at Soldier Field.
Without a doubt, this will be a hard-fought game. The Green Bay Packers will be fighting for a Wildcard spot while the Chicago Bears fight for second seed in the NFC playoff rankings.
This meeting might just be uglier than when they met in Week 3, almost three months ago.
THE SLATE IS CLEAN
“One and done.”
That’s the old adage of the playoff season in the NFL. Every game is a “Super Bowl or die” situation, because one loss means the end of the road.
At this point for the Green Bay Packers, “one and done” should be on the forefront of their minds. Their record means nothing, and they can forget about any victories or losses they’ve sustained already this season. From here on out, their slate is clean and they no longer have any second chances.
They control their own fate, and no other team or crazy scenario can help them out now.
Packers fans, get ready for some turbulence and grab some beer to calm your nerves, because they are going to be out of control starting on Sunday. The coaches and players will give us their definitive proof as to whether they can truly win the big games. They will need to give it their all and show us their best or face the humility of having thrown away a season that held high – yet achievable – expectations.
The playoffs start now.——————Follow @ChadToporski