The Past: You have to admit it’s a little but of a miracle that the Packers are back in the playoffs; the NFL is setup for parity almost a third of playoff teams not making it the following year and it always seems like some teams like the Titans and Browns are so inept at football that they can’t even stumble their way into the playoffs and yet the Packers have been part of the postseason every year under Aaron Rodgers minus his first year starting and they managed to win it all in 2010. The last time the Packers won the NFC North and managed to secure a 1st round playoff bye was in 2011, when they almost went 16-0 and then fell on their face against the New York Giants.
While the Packers are no stranger to the playoffs it can’t be said that they’ve had much success in recent memory; outside a hot streak that won them a Super Bowl in 2010 and a fluky game against a Joe Webb lead Minnesota Vikings the Packers have gone one and done more times than fans would like to remember
The Present: The Packers close out the season with a 12-4 record and the NFC title for the 3rd year in a row. Perhaps most importantly, the Packers squad hasn’t been this healthy since the 2011 season where they were an offensive juggernaut save for two games (unfortunately one of which was the NFC divisional round). However unlike the 2011 Packers which was all throw, the 2014 Packers boast one of the most balanced offenses in the league with Eddie Lacy becoming a perfect compliment to Aaron Rodgers. Add to that a defense that while has had sudden lapses in execution is considerably better than the 2011 squad, which was historically terrible. When taken in total, this is probably the most talented team the Packers have fielded during the Mike McCarthy/Ted Thompson/Aaron Rodgers era.
However the playoff field will not be an easy one. While Carolina and the rest of the NFC south probably should have been sent back to the minor leagues, the other 4 teams are all very talented and will offer a tough test for the Packers. Obviously the biggest challenge for the Packers would be the Seattle Seahawks, who have proven to have the formula for stopping the Packers in their last couple meetings. Also since the Seahawks secured the 1st seed, playing the Seahawks would be the only situation where the Packers would not have a home game, where they have been significantly better than away. After that the Cowboys offer an interesting matchup, while the Packers are a below average run defense while the Cowboys have one of the best rushing attacks, I’m not convinced that the Packers couldn’t out throw Tony Romo and Dez Bryant since the Cowboys defense is rather average. Next up would be the Packers old buddies the Detroit Lions; who managed to get out of their own way enough to qualify for the playoffs. However it’s still the same dirt bag Lions, and sooner or later their unsportsmanlike playing style will come to bite them. Lastly is the Arizona Cardinals, who seem to be on their 30th quarterback this season. While the offense has taken a nosedive the last couple of weeks, the Cardinals defense is still fearsome.
The Future: Luckily this isn’t a situation like the Ravens found themselves where they won the Super Bowl and were quickly dismantled in free agency. The Packers are primed for at least a couple years where they have Aaron Rodgers in his prime and most of the key players are locked up. Add to that a stable front office and coaching staff that is always forward looking and Packers fans can look forward to more winning seasons.
At this point all the Packers and their fans can do is sit back and watch the playoffs unfurl.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.