The Green Bay Packers have earned a first round bye in the playoffs for the third consecutive year under Matt LaFleur. This means the Pack needs to win just two games to reach the Super Bowl while every other team in the conference must win three. It also means that all games the Packers play in the NFC playoffs will be at Lambeau Field.
With the Wild Card round matchups set, the Packers can face one of four teams at Lambeau Field on the weekend of January 22 and 23.
Here is a look at the Packers four possible opponents in the first round of the playoffs from most difficult matchup to easiest:
- Los Angeles Rams (12-5, 4th Seed)
The Rams had a five-game winning streak snapped in Week 18 when they lost to the Cardinals 27-24 in overtime. Their last loss prior to that was their 36-28 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 12.
The Rams have an elite passing game led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and featuring talented wide receivers in Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham, Jr. They had the fifth best passing offense in the league.
Head coach Sean McVay used to be Matt LaFleur’s boss so the two know each other well.
Defensively, Aaron Donald leads a strong interior line that is stout against the run. He would give Josh Myers and the Packers guards all they can handle. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is elite and he and Davante Adams have a friendly rivalry between them. Adams has gotten the best of Ramsey in the last two matchups.
If any team can match the Packers point-for-point, it’s the Rams. They have a talented defense and finished the season strong after the Packers handed them their third straight loss the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Facing the Rams would present the Packers with the biggest challenge.
- San Francisco 49ers (10-7-0, 6th Seed)
It seems like a long time ago that the Packers beat the 49ers in San Francisco back in Week 3 by a 30-28 margin.
The 49ers got off to a 3-5 start but finished strong, winning four of their final five games.
The Packers have a big edge at quarterback but San Francisco wins by running the ball, being efficient through the air with a short passing game and playing strong defense.
The biggest challenge Green Bay would face against the 49ers is the talented front seven of the San Francisco defense.
The Packers offensive line would have to slow down Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Arden Key as pass rushers. The 49ers also have a good run defense and one of the best tight ends in the league in George Kittle.
Kyle Shanahan and LaFleur also have worked together in the past and have a friendly rivalry going. All Packers fans remember the 2019 NFC Championship Game which the Packers would love to get revenge for.
- Arizona Cardinals (11-6-0, 5th Seed)
The Cardinals started the season 7-0 but finished it by going 4-6 including losses in four of their last five games. Their first loss of the season came against the Packers when Green Bay won without its top three receivers on a last-second interception by Rasul Douglas.
Kyler Murray has been inconsistent this year. When he’s on, he’s as dangerous as any quarterback in the game. His ability to run away from pressure and create big plays when improvising make him even more dangerous.
The Cards can run and throw the ball effectively and they finished 11th in the league in both points scored and points allowed.
Defensively, Arizona is vulnerable against the run but they were seventh in the league against the pass. Markus Golden and Chandler Jones give them two outstanding pass rushers who the Packers would have to contend with.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-8-0, 7th Seed)
Halfway through the season, the Eagles were 3-6 and looked dead in the water but they finished 6-2 and earned the final playoff spot in the NFC.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has made strides and led the team in both passing and rushing yards. Dallas Goedert is one of his favorite targets and the Packers have struggled to cover tight ends at times this season.
The Eagles defense is very good against both the run and the pass but their inability to consistently rush the passer could make them vulnerable to Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
The Eagles are the only team on this list the Packers didn’t play during the 2021 season. They last faced Philadelphia in 2020 and defeated the Eagles 30-16.
Philadelphia went 6-3 on the road this season but went 0-6 against playoff teams. Because they are the lowest seed in the NFC playoffs, the Eagles will face the Packers if they upset the Bucs this weekend.
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