Green Bay Packers fans remain an unconvinced bunch about this year’s team, even as the green and gold sit in position to claim a first-round bye in the postseason. Green Bay locked up a playoff berth last week with a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears — another ugly win that could have been a blowout if not for some missed opportunities — but clinching the first-ever playoff appearance by a rookie head coach in franchise history is not enough to convince fans that this team is headed for a deep postseason run.
That position is understandable. After all, the Packers have been unimpressive in recent wins, and the team has posted a pair of duds on the road since their last truly solid victory. But winning ugly has become the team’s identity, and that is often how teams advance in the playoffs.
Following the victory over the Bears, the confidence index in APC’s FanPulse survey group rose seven points, climbing back over the 50 percent mark to 54% from 47% last week. Here’s a look at the season’s trend line:
Getting a home game (or two) will be critical for Green Bay, who held a 7-1 record at Lambeau Field this season. But to earn a bye, they will need to win in a very difficult environment, a stadium where they have yet to win a game. That bye will probably come down to Monday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, a team that superior to the Packers by some measures despite the Packers’ likely division title.
If the Packers win this game on the road — even if they win in ugly fashion again — confidence is sure to rise. The Packers are 3-1 so far this season against teams currently in position for the playoffs, with a home victory over the Vikings in week two and road wins at Dallas and Kansas City. But this game, more than any other, could be a statement win for Matt LaFleur with a bye on the line.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Dallas Cowboys sit in position to win the NFC East and host a playoff game. Whether they or the Philadelphia Eagles win that division, they will play a home game against a Wild Card team with a better record. That prompted this week’s national FanPulse question: whether division winners should get to host first-round playoff games. The results may surprise you a bit:
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.