GREEN BAY—Green Bay’s scenario is pretty cut-and-dried.
If Dallas (12-4) beats Detroit (11-5) in the wild-card round on Sunday, the Cowboys are coming to Lambeau Field for the NFC divisional playoff on Jan. 11. Depending on the temperature, perhaps an Ice Bowl redux.
If the Lions pull the upset, the No. 2-seeded Packers would get the winner of Saturday’s game between Arizona (11-5) and Carolina (7-8-1).
So, your rooting interests this weekend should hinge on whom you’d rather see visit Green Bay next week.
Given the circumstances, it seems obvious it would benefit the Packers to have the Lions win and go to No. 1 seed Seattle (12-4), sending the Cardinals-Panthers winner to Lambeau. Arizona is entering the playoffs on a two-game losing streak and is down to its third quarterback, while Carolina is a sub-.500 division champion whom the Packers soundly defeated earlier this season.
Not that anyone is assuming a Green Bay victory on Jan. 11, but if you’re still holding out hope the Packers might host the NFC title game a week later, then you’ll want to root for Seattle to get the most difficult opponent of its three options. The Seahawks would have to lose in the divisional round on Jan. 10 for the NFC Championship to be held anywhere other than in Seattle.
Again, that would seem to point toward the Lions knocking off the Cowboys and heading west to challenge the Seahawks. The underdog Lions have received a boost with Ndamukong Suh’s suspension getting lifted earlier this week.
If Dallas wins and comes to Green Bay, the next-toughest option for Seattle would probably be Carolina. The Seahawks downed the Cardinals by convincing scores of 19-3 and 35-6 in the last six weeks of the regular season, but they squeaked by the Panthers, 13-9, back in Week 8. Carolina also is entering the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
So, there you have it for now. Enjoy the games, and below is some quick data on the Packers’ playoff history with the three possible foes.
Packers’ postseason record: 2-4
Previous meetings: 1966 NFL Championship (W), ’67 NFL Championship (W), ’82 NFC second round (L), ’94 NFC divisional (L), ’95 NFC Championship (L)
Packers’ postseason record: 1-0
Previous meeting: 1996 NFC Championship (W)
Packers’ postseason record: 1-1
Previous meetings: 1982 NFC first round (W), 2009 NFC wild card (L)