As the calendar turns from 2020 to 2021, the Green Bay Packers will find themselves entering the new year facing a pivotal Week 17 full of playoff implications.
Despite reaching 12 wins this season, the No. 1 seed in the NFC remains up for grabs to start the new year. Wrapping up the NFC North was an important goal this season due to all the outside noise, but with a chance to have the NFC playoffs roll through snowy Lambeau Field, the goals become much higher.
The last time Green Bay secured the No. 1 seed was back in 2011 coming off winning Super Bowl XLV, a 15-win season, and the first of Aaron Rodgers‘ two MVP awards.
Then it all came crashing down as the New York Giants completed the monumental upset on their way to winning Super Bowl XLVI.
In fact, the last time Green Bay hosted the NFC Championship Game was in 2007 in Brett Favre‘s final game as a Packer — and against the same New York team.
The Green Bay Packers Looking Ahead to 2021
As previously mentioned, there’s a ton at stake in Week 17 that can either solidify Green Bay’s position or see them move around. Due to the NFC East winner cementing the No. 4 seed, Green Bay can either finish one, two, or three after Sunday concludes.
The easiest path?
Defeat the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and the No. 1 seed belongs to Green Bay. Lose and then it depends on what both New Orleans and Seattle do in their respective games.
Should New Orleans and Seattle win on Sunday with Green Bay losing, then the tiebreaker gives New Orleans the No. 1 seed. A Seattle win combined with losses from Green Bay and New Orleans gives Seattle the No. 1 seed.
The only scenario involving a Green Bay loss still giving them the No. 1 seed is if should all three teams involved lose on Sunday. An extremely unlikely event, but never count out the NFL when it comes to playoff seeding in the final week.
Handling the Chicago Bears
However, one thing Green Bay must not do on Sunday is looking past the Chicago Bears. Winners of three-straight games, a resurgent Mitchell Trubisky has revived this Chicago team scoring at least 30+ points in four straight games.
However, Chicago also controls their own destiny heading into Week 17 needing just a win to qualify for a playoff berth. Due to the Arizona Cardinals losing in Week 16, Chicago could still sneak into the playoffs as long as Arizona loses to the Jared Goff-less Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Green Bay at Chicago is a huge game for both squads needing a win to help achieve the first of many goals in January. Chicago has looked much-improved on both sides of the ball and could be a tight one on Sunday. Especially knowing how much is on the line.
The Season Finale Feels Different for Green Bay heading into 2021
The scrutiny and questioning of drafting Jordan Love was a constant theme for Green Bay this season, but that has pushed both head coach Matt LaFleur and MVP candidate Rodgers to coach and play their best football, respectively.
When it seemed like the world was collapsing in Green Bay, Rodgers and Davante Adams have constantly torched the league with 44 and 17 touchdowns, Mike Pettine’s scheme has constantly improved in the second half of the season, and LaFleur has put his team in position to win constantly.
Defensive standouts such as Rashan Gary, Za’Darius Smith, Darnell Savage, and Jaire Alexander have ascended this defense to a point where you rely on them to get a red-zone stop instead of watching opposing offenses impose their will.
Green Bay’s trouncing and defensive stalwart against the Tennessee Titans in Week 16 gave us a glimpse of how dominant this team can be.
The only question that remains is will this team regardless of home-field advantage or not finally put all the pieces together once the playoffs begin? Or will another disappointing finish occur?
For More Great Wisconsin Sports Content