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Assessing Packers vs. NFC playoff field

Dec. 18, 2012

The Packers have clinched the NFC North title and a home playoff game. Now all that needs to be determined is when they play their first post-season game and against which team.

The Packers are still in the running for a first-round playoff bye, but they would need to win their final two games against Tennessee and Minnesota and have one of two things to happen:

*San Francisco loses one of its last two games to either Seattle or Arizona.

*Atlanta loses its final two games to Detroit and Tampa Bay.

Anything is possible in the NFL, but let's assume that the 49ers and Falcons finish strong and the Packers are relegated to the No. 3 seed, which they can clinch with a victory Sunday at home against Tennessee.

That would leave the Packers facing the No. 6 seed in the wild-card round of the playoffs at Lambeau Field. The opponent could be any one of six teams in the crazy NFC playoff race. Let's look at those six potential opponents:

*Redskins: A meeting against Robert Griffin III, assuming he is healthy, is never an enticing prospect.

*Seahawks: A rematch of the infamous Fail Mary game, in which the Packers were robbed of a victory in Seattle by a blown official's call, would make for a great story line. But the Packers should be careful what they wish for in this revenge match because the Seahawks have been coming on strong lately with an explosive offense to go with their solid defense.

*Cowboys: Another revenge match, perhaps? The Packers could finally get back at the Cowboys for all those playoff losses in the 1990s. The return of Tony Romo to Wisconsin would feed the pre-game hype machine.

*Giants: This is one team that has the Packers' number of late, with blowout victories twice during the 2012 calendar year. But the Giants will need help just to qualify for the playoffs.

*Bears: Chicago didn't look like a playoff team in their loss to the Packers on Sunday, but perhaps they'll produce a surge to save Lovie Smith's job. Whether it's true or not, the pundits always say it's difficult to beat the same team three times in one season.

*Vikings: Minnesota came to Lambeau eight years ago with a worse record than the division champion Packers and beat them like a drum in a playoff matchup. That prompted Bob Harlan to replace Mike Sherman as general manager with Ted Thompson. It just goes to show that not all playoff losses end badly.

Here's a look at the remaining schedules of the top 9 teams in the NFC, with the top 6 qualifying for the playoffs:

1. Atlanta Falcons (12-2)

At Lions (4-10)
Bucs (6-8)

2. San Francisco (10-3-1)

At Seahawks (9-5)
Cardinals (5-9)

3. Green Bay (10-4)

Titans (5-9)
At Vikings (8-6)

4. Washington (8-6)

At Eagles (4-10)
Cowboys (8-6)

5. Seattle (9-5)

49ers (10-3-1)
Rams (6-7-1)

6. Minnesota (8-6)

At Texans (12-2)
Packers (10-4)

7. Chicago (8-6)

At Cardinals (5-9)
At Lions (4-10)

8. Dallas (8-6)

Saints (6-8)
At Redskins (8-6)

9. N.Y. Giants (8-6)

At Ravens (9-5)
Eagles (4-10)

About This Report

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports