First-Round Bye Within Reach for Home-Dominant Packers

The Packers have looked unbeatable at home in 2014, giving Green Bay a real opportunity to secure a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. 

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

Teams that take care of business at home in the regular season are typically first in line for a first-round bye in the NFL postseason, and it’s not difficult to imagine the Green Bay Packers—the NFL’s most dominant home team of the 2014 season, at least so far—riding wins at Lambeau Field to a week off this coming January. 

Six clubs finished the 2013 season with home records of 7-1 or better. Not surprisingly, all four top-two seeds came from that pool of six. The New England Patriots finished a perfect 8-0 at home and secured the No. 2 seed in the AFC, while the Broncos went 7-1 in Denver and took the conference’s home-field advantage. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks (top seed) and Carolina Panthers (No. 2) both finished 7-1 at home. All six of the teams with a 7-1 record or better at home made the postseason. 

The Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints both went 8-0 at home but finished 11-5 because of marginal 3-5 road records. 

In 2012, the Packers finished 7-1 at home and hosted a playoff game at Lambeau Field. A year earlier, Green Bay was among three teams (New Orleans, Baltimore) finishing 8-0 at home—and all three were top-two seeds. 

It’s not rocket science. Coaches and players talk year after year about the importance of winning home games. Finish 7-1 or better at home and a team can afford a few slipups on the road. Go 8-0 and an even split on the road can all but secure a first-round bye. 

The Packers finishing 8-0 at Lambeau Field this season is far from a lock, but it isn’t a stretch either.

Green Bay has won its first five home games by a 134-point margin. Amazingly, that stat doesn’t even fully describe the home dominance. The Packers have secured in-game leads of 42 points (Minnesota), 35 (Carolina), 48 (Chicago) and 40 (Philadelphia) in Green Bay, while 48 of the 61 points allowed over the last four home games have come after Aaron Rodgers was pulled from the contest. 

Rodgers has been otherworldly at home. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions at Lambeau Field, and his home passer rating leads the NFL at a ridiculous 138.1. He’s been so good that the Packers simply haven’t needed him in the fourth quarter of the last four home games. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn has played 57 snaps over four home appearances this season, or the equivalent of almost a full game.  

Looming matchups will test the Packers’ dominance at Lambeau Field. Green Bay throttled the once 7-2 and NFC East-leading Eagles on Sunday, but Mark Sanchez isn’t Tom Brady and the Eagles defense isn’t nearly as fast or talented as Detroit’s. 

A visit from the Patriots in two weeks will be a legitimate litmus test. Hours after Green Bay finished off Philadelphia, New England went into Indianapolis and dusted Andrew Luck and the Colts in primetime. Brady could pick apart the Packers defense and the Patriots’ secondary is an underrated unit. 

Week 17’s showdown with the Lions will almost certainly determine something postseason related—whether it’s the NFC North title, Green Bay’s shot at a top-two seed or a Wild Card spot. Detroit beat up the Packers in the first meeting and actually hung around at Lambeau Field in 2013 without receiver Calvin Johnson. That said, the Lions haven’t won in the state of Wisconsin in nearly a quarter century. 

Let’s say, for a moment, the Packers answer the call against both New England and Detroit and finish 8-0 at home. Again, not a huge stretch considering how well Rodgers and the opportunistic defense has played at Lambeau Field in 2014. A perfect home finish would mean three more wins (including over 4-6 Atlanta), getting Green Bay to at least 10 victories. The Packers will be favorites in road games at Minnesota (on Sunday), Tampa Bay (currently 2-8) and Buffalo (5-5), although the Vikings are pesky-dangerous, the Buccaneers showed a pulse Sunday and the Bills can rush the quarterback. Any loss to those three teams would still be deemed an upset, putting a 13-3 record and a first-round bye well within reach. 

An 8-0 home record would also allow room for a hiccup on the road. Considering the Arizona Cardinals (9-1) are only NFC team with fewer than three losses, finishing 12-4 should still be good enough to secure a first-round bye. Even one home loss and an upset-free run on the road would provide the necessary 12-4 finish. 

Who knows what a first-round bye could mean for the Packers. Green Bay has been outclassed on the road in Seattle, Detroit and New Orleans this season, losing by a 99-46 margin. Securing January games at Lambeau Field could be the difference between a Super Bowl run and another one-and-done postseason exit. Then again, the Packers have just one home playoff win—over the Joe Webb-led Vikings—since Rodgers took over as Green Bay’s starting quarterback. The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have both come to Lambeau Field and won playoff games in recent years. 

The Packers did win three straight road games to get to Super Bowl XLV in 2010-11, but that’s a trail few teams want to take to the final game. The path of least resistance is still through Lambeau Field. 

The Packers’ dominance at home in 2014 has opened the door to the real possibility of a 12-4 or 13-3 finish. How Green Bay closes the season at home will likely determine whether or not the Packers can secure the week off in January.

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

NFL Categories: 
0 points

Comments (14)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

If they can keep up this torrid pace, there should be a few games where Arodg is sitting in the fourth. Sure would love to see Tolzien getting some mop up snaps. Still would like Flynn on the active roster in case he is needed. Is there any benefit to having them both active or is that 54th man absolutely so key that it makes this silly? I just think Tolzien is #2 next year and it would be great to get him some more real game experience.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

November 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

The bovine prognosticator claimed that the Packers could only muster an 8-8 record. You may as well take this article down, since he knows all that is the future, past and present of the Packers organization.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bearmeat's picture

November 18, 2014 at 10:57 am

I think it's quite likely that GB gets the 2 seed. And possible that #1 comes into play. Barring a catastropic injury, NE is the only game I can really see GB losing the rest of the way. That means 12-4 at worst. Neither the Eagles nor the Cowboys will get there - and we've got the tiebreaker over both.

AZ plays SEA 2x and the 9ers once before it's all done. With whats-his-name-backup-QB (Stanton) I really don't see them going 13-3. Maybe not even 12-4.

Very exciting.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JRODGALLANT's picture

November 18, 2014 at 07:11 pm

Good points, but for some reason I fear the Lions game more than the Pats game. This coming weekend will be huge for the Pack & Leo's. Hopefully some separation when it's all said and done.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
DraftHobbyist's picture

November 18, 2014 at 04:36 pm

While it's true that we are fighting for a Bye, I caution fans about concentrating just on the First Round Bye as if we have already made the playoffs.

We're are fighting for our playoff lives right now. We are currently a 5 seed and tied with the 6 seed at 7-3. There are 2 good teams in SFO and SEA trailing at 6-4 in the 7 and 8 spots. They both have pretty tough records left, but they can both beat anybody on a good day.

It seems as if many Packer fans are taking for granted that we will make the playoffs again, and although I agree that we probably will, it's far from a sure thing.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
barutanseijin's picture

November 18, 2014 at 07:39 pm

If the Packer players & coaches get overconfident it could be a problem. Overconfident fans, not so much.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

November 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

Totally agree. We either win the games we should or we do not. I'm sure McCarthy will have us mentally ready. I like everyone else I guess cant wait til the end of the reg season, because of the possibility for the unexpected loss that could come against anyone. I am excited to see how we face up against NE and Belichek. Detroit I'm sure we will be looking for some payback.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
White92's picture

November 19, 2014 at 01:28 pm

I like the "us" :)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
lucky953's picture

November 18, 2014 at 05:27 pm

Beware of the Jinx. Just beat the Queens! It's really, really tough to play one game at a time, especially with all the hype that comes with winning. It's an additional challenge for the coaching staff and I hope the vets can keep the younger guys heads straight as this team keeps "stacking success".

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
pooch's picture

November 19, 2014 at 07:27 am

We will take care of N.E after they have hard fight with Detroit,guys quit saying N.E could be a loss.Are D is on the upswing and our O is tops in the league

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rwhyan's picture

November 19, 2014 at 10:04 am

I'm not going to stress about getting the #1 seed - #2 would be good enough.

Arizona as the #1 is great - they'll either lose their first game (they'd be an underdog against almost any other NFC playoff team), or be the least troubling place to play if we make it to the NFC championship.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JimTaylor31's picture

November 19, 2014 at 11:29 am

I'm thinking we can and better beat NE at home if we have SB aspirations. I mean if we can't beat NE at home in November I doubt if we can beat them on neutral field in Feb. Time to go out and win a big time game against a big time opponent and make a real statement.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
JimTaylor31's picture

November 21, 2014 at 06:08 pm

Actually I didn't say we "couldn't" beat them in a rematch. I said that I "doubt" if we could beat them if we lost at home. Not a generalization at all. Belicheck is no dummy and I doubt if winning in November will somehow make him overconfident and unwilling to adapt should we meet again in the SB.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

November 22, 2014 at 05:42 pm

That's how I feel as well, This is their perfect shot to do that now. and then close it out with the Lions. What better way to go into the playoffs and we look like things are really coming together.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.