Things seem to be falling into place for the Green Bay Packers. Despite dealing with a ridiculous number of injuries to key players and absences due to Covid-19, the Packers finished the season 13-4, won the NFC North and captured the top spot in the NFC playoffs and the bye that goes with it.
As we begin the NFC Divisional Playoff round, the four remaining teams are all familiar faces. The Rams, 49ers and Buccaneers have represented the NFC in the last three Super Bowls. The Packers have reached the NFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons and are looking to return there for the third straight year if they beat the 49ers.
The Packers are also set up for a revenge tour this year. In 2019, the Packers lost to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The final score was 37-20, but the game wasn’t as close as the score may indicate. The Packers were blown out in that game, falling behind 27-0 at halftime and trailed 34-7 late in the third quarter. The outcome was rarely in doubt.
The Packers have faced the 49ers twice in the regular season since then and won both games, beating them 34-17 in 2020 and 30-28 this season with both games coming in San Francisco. But the only real revenge for a playoff loss is to defeat the opposing team in the playoffs and on Saturday night at Lambeau Field, the Packers have a chance to do just that.
Overall, the Packers and 49ers have met eight times in the playoffs with both teams winning four times. However, San Francisco has won the last three meetings which came in 2012, 2013 and 2019.
Should the Packers defeat the 49ers, they will face the winner of the Rams-Bucs game on Sunday. The Packers will benefit from home field advantage and an extra day of rest against whichever team wins that game which will be played in Tampa.
If the Buccaneers advance, the Packers would be able to continue their revenge tour and would face the team that beat them in the 2020 NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. This was a game the Packers still feel they easily could have won, but too many key players didn’t play up to their usual standard. The pass defense broke down just before the half and Mike Pettine and Matt LaFleur didn’t seem to be on the same page. Kevin King was beaten on a long pass and the Bucs scored a key touchdown with one second left in the half.
The Packers and Bucs have only met twice in the postseason with the Packers winning the first meeting in the 1997 playoffs and the Bucs winning in last year’s NFC title game. Of course, Tampa Bay was a division rival for the Packers from 1977-2001 when both teams were part of the NFC Central Division.
The playoffs also have extra meaning for the Packers because this may be the last chance for many of these players to win a title in Green Bay. There are several key players with expiring contracts or that have deals that would have to be renegotiated if they can play for the Packers in 2022 and beyond.
We have been following the Aaron Rodgers saga since the 2021 NFL Draft when the bombshell about his dissatisfaction about the Packers organization was made public. The relationship certainly seems better now but the Packers would need to negotiate a new contract with Rodgers if he is going to remain on the team next season.
Davante Adams is going to be an unrestricted free agent next season unless the Packers sign him to a new, long-term deal or use the franchise tag on him. Other players who will need new deals or won’t be back include Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Robert Tonyan, De’Vondre Campbell and Kevin King.
Whether this truly is “The Last Dance” for Rodgers and this version of the Packers remains to be seen. But first, they have a job to do and a revenge tour to complete. The Packers are one game away from their third straight NFC Championship Game. That is the focus this team needs to have this week.
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