The Green Bay Packers can stay home for a week off. Thanks to their 23-20 victory over the Detroit Lions, the Packers locked up at worst the second seed in the NFC playoffs. However, there remains a glimmer of hope that the Packers could end up atop the conference and staying home all the way through to the Super Bowl.
Getting that bye was critical, however. That is one fewer game that the Packers would need to play in a potential Super Bowl run, and it also represents the first time they have been a top-two seed since 2014, when the team went 12-4. That Packers squad beat the Cowboys at home before a game in Seattle that will live in infamy in the memories of Packers fans.
In earning the bye, the Packers also earned themselves some valuable rest. The team lost a pair of starting offensive linemen to injuries on Sunday afternoon, as Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga left the game with a back injury and a concussion, respectively. Receiver Allen Lazard sat out much of the game’s final drive as well, apparently dealing with an injury of his own, and the week off will be a massive help as the team hopes those players will return to full strength for the Divisional Round.
Now, the Packers need to cheer for the same Seahawks that bounced them out of the 2014 playoffs on Sunday night. A Seahawks win over the San Francisco 49ers would give the Packers the NFC’s number one seed and would ensure that the road to the Super Bowl runs through Green Bay. That game will kick off at 7:20 PM Central Time on NBC.
Ultimately, though, the bye is the most important factor. The Super Bowl representatives from both conferences in each of the past four seasons have been teams that earned byes through the Wild Card round. And even though the Packers’ last championship came as the six seed — playing three road games to make it to the big game — this provides a much easier pathway to Miami and Super Bowl LIV.
Now, if the Seahawks can find a way to win on their home turf tonight, the Packers would guarantee that they won’t have to go to California — or anywhere else — unless they earn a Super Bowl berth.
UPDATE: The Seahawks lost a nail-biter to the 49ers, giving San Francisco the top seed and pushing the Packers down to the #2 spot in the NFC.