The Packers almost assuredly are going to be in the playoffs. We have to say “almost” because, well, things happen. But if everything goes even remotely close to plan, the Packers will be back in the postseason dance for the third consecutive season.
The NFC playoff picture is pretty murky, but there are some teams out there that could present significant challenges for the Packers. Who do we fear most? We asked our writers what they thought, and here’s what they said.
Tyler Brooke: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
“He can’t keep getting away with it!.....he can’t keep getting away with it!” *crying*
There is no one more terrifying to face in the playoffs than Tom Brady. Not only does Tampa Bay have a plethora of weapons in the passing game, they also have a strong running game and a stifling defensive front. Sounds just like last year, right?
They brought back all 22 starters from their Super Bowl run, which feels unfair. That being said, their secondary is banged up, and the Packers could come into that game looking for vengeance.
Does that happen in Lambeau in front of a full crowd? Packers fans can only hope so.
Tex Western: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yep. There’s only one answer for me. We know the Packers can beat the Cardinals - they did it with Juwann Winfree as their de facto WR1. We know they can beat the Rams. I am also extremely confident that this team as constructed can beat the Dallas Cowboys, especially at home in Lambeau Field.
But even though the Bucs’ defense has been notably worse than it was last year — particularly against the pass — it’s still a difficult front to run against, which will and probably should be the Packers’ focus in January. And then there’s that passing game, which worries me even though the Packers’ defense has made a massive turnaround to become a top-five unit against the pass.
The possibility of an NFC Championship rematch looms large in my mind, and I can’t help but hope that Tampa gets knocked out (maybe by Taylor Heinicke and Washington?) before having a chance to play in Green Bay this postseason.
Jon Meerdink: Dallas Cowboys
The Buccaneers are the most correct, but a scenario exists where the Packers lose to the Dallas Cowboys in Lambeau Field. I don’t know if this is the Last Dance or not, but if it is, imagine the Rodgers era ending both at home and at the hands of Mike McCarthy. I don’t particularly fear the Cowboys, but I think they could beat the Packers in the right circumstances. That thought alone is enough to make me shudder, and we haven’t even mentioned the prospect of Jerry Jones walking out of Lambeau with smile on his leathery face after a playoff win.
Paul Noonan: Dallas Cowboys
We may be feeling overly confident because of Mike McCarthy, but forget about Mike for a second, because most of the Dallas coaching staff has. The fact of the matter is that Dallas is a secret NFC juggernaut that’s second in the NFL in points. The Dallas offense is run by Kellen Moore, not Mike, and Kellen Moore is smart, and a likely head coach next year. Mike has nothing to do with the defense, which currently ranks 4th in Defensive DVOA, and is littered with stars.
We notice big dumb analytics mistakes like giving Zeke too many carries relative to Pollard, We make fun of Mike for being old-fashioned, but it’s hard to argue that they’ve been worse than Green Bay. They also had to start their backup quarterback for a game, and they’ve lost key receivers to injuries and COVID over the course of the season, but they are likely to get healthy at the right time, as we hope Green Bay does, Dak Prescott is a good, if not great, quarterback, and Micah Parsons is one of the best defensive players in the league. I fear Tampa as well, but don’t sleep on Dallas.
Kris Burke: Green Bay Packers
You read that right.
After losing in heartbreaking fashion as well as having the doors blown off once or twice, the 2021 Packers appear to be the most balanced team Green Bay has had in a long time.
So therefore the Packers scare me just as they should scare everyone else in the NFC.
Just think of how much talent they’ve lost to injury and they’re still among the league’s elite and now add Jaire Alexander, David Bakhtiari, and Za’Darius Smith to the already potent mix.
That should be enough to even get Tom Brady to sit up a little straighter and if the Packers get the top seed, that makes them even more dangerous.
Come January, it will be tough to tell if opponents are quivering in fear of the Packers or it’s just that cold at Lambeau Field. Either way, it bodes well for Green Bay.
To quote the late Kevin Greene, “IT. IS. TIME.”