Week 11 in the NFL season has come to a close, bringing anticipating teams one step closer to the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers currently have accumulated an 8-2 record, sitting on top of the NFC North and currently second place in the NFC. At this point in the season, the teams expected to make the playoffs shift their sights toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs giving them an early edge heading into the Super Bowl race. Judging from the teams which the Packers might matchup against come playoff time, it’s conceivable that having the NFC playoffs run through Green Bay should be the top priority for Coach Matt LaFleur and his team.
The Packers had their bye week this past weekend, where they watched the NFC playoff picture around them unfold one more step. While the Packers sit on top of their division, they still have work to do if they hope to successfully capture the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings pulled off a 20-point second-half comeback against the Denver Broncos in week 11 giving them an 8-3 record, just a half game behind the Packers. Fortunately for the Packers, they were able to defeat Minnesota in the second week of the season by a score of 21-16, giving Green Bay the edge in the event of a tie. However, only a half game lead means the Packers have little margin for error in winning this division. If Minnesota finishes ahead in the standings, the Packers will most likely play all of their playoff games on the road. Judging by a couple of the venues which the Packers may have to visit in the event of a Wild Card slot, winning this division is of the utmost importance. The Superdome in New Orleans, and Century Link Field in Seattle are known as two of the loudest places to play in the entire NFL. The Packers face Minnesota one more time this season during week 16 in Minneapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium, which could be the deciding game for the NFC North crown. The Packers are currently 0-3 when playing in U.S. Bank Stadium since opening in 2016, making it a location the team would most likely want to avoid come playoff time. Minnesota has also won all five games on their home turf this season, just one of two teams to maintain an undefeated record at home. The Packers winning the NFC North and keeping the U.S. Bank Stadium out of the playoffs would be two key factors in enhancing the Super Bowl hopes for Green Bay.
Looking at the teams currently in position to make the NFC playoffs, most of them either play in domes, or warm weather climates, making Lambeau Field a strong change of scenary for teams coming into the cold Wisconsin winter. The Vikings, Saints and Cowboys all play their home games indoors, while the 49ers and Seahawks play in warm climates, making the cold weather of Northern Wisconsin in January a potentially significant advantage for the Packers.
The Packers have a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, November 24, at 7:20 p.m., which will determine who is the frontrunner for the top seed in the NFC Playoffs. San Francisco currently has an NFC best record of 9-1 after a victory over the Arizona Cardinals in week 11 by a score of 36-26. A win this weekend would make the Packers and 49ers tied on top of the NFC with records of 9-2 a piece. Green Bay would gain the tie breaker with a win over San Francisco. The 49ers are a tall task which the Packers would likely prefer a faceoff at Lambeau come playoff time. San Francisco has the NFL’s second best rushing attack with 149 yards per game. Their defense, led by Rookie Defensive End Nick Bosa, leads the league in sacks with a total of 39, 3.5 per game. The Packer’s offense and defense must step up if they want to take down this stout opponent.
The Packers have won 8 of their first 10 games for the first time since 2011, a promising start for new Head Coach Matt LaFleur. After two seasons of missing the postseason, Coach Lafleur and Quarterback Aaron Rodgers have led a Packer’s revamped offense, and improved young defense back into Super Bowl contention.
Green Bay is in hunt for their first championship since 2010 which would be the fifth Lombardi trophy for the organization. This promising new era of Packer football has made a statement throughout the NFL this season, improving in both points for and against the team from a season ago. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finds himself back in the MVP race with 2,718 yards through the first 10 games with 17 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. He is aided by one of the NFL’s most elite running backs in Aaron Jones, who is tied at the top of the league in rushing touchdowns at 11. Green Bay’s defense is led by 25 year old Linebacker Blake Martinez who has over 100 tackles in the first 10 games. The Packer’s defensive front has seen significant improvement from recent years with Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith who both rank top ten in the NFL for sacks on quarterbacks, Preston with 10 and Za’Darius with 8.5. Home field advantage for these Packers would be a huge momentum boost for a team hungry for a trophy which still holds the franchise’s legendary Coach Vince Lombardi’s name engraved on it. The Packers look to solidify themselves as the clear cut favorite in the NFC this Sunday in San Francisco against the 49ers in what may be the most anticipated game of the season up to this point.