Ranking Who the Packers Want to Play the Most in Their First Playoff Game

The Green Bay Packers are the only NFC team with a first-round playoff bye this season and therefore the only team in the conference who doesn’t yet know their first-round playoff opponent.

There are four possible division round opponents for the Packers as they cannot face the Seattle Seahawks or New Orleans Saints until the NFC Championship Game.

Here is a look at the Packers possible division round opponents ranked from most difficult to face to easiest. Feel free to comment with who you feel the Pack should most and least want to play in the next round of the playoffs:

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5th seed) 11-5-0

The Packers suffered their first loss of the season to the Bucs in Week 6, 38-10. It was the only game of the season where the Pack was truly non-competitive.

The Buccaneers have a few things going for them that make them undesirable opponents. They have a fast and talented front seven on defense that has the potential to give the Packers offense difficulty like they did in the first meeting between these two teams.

They also have Tom Brady at quarterback. Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have a lot of playoff experience and are familiar with and comfortable playing in cold weather from their days in New England. Brady has won six Super Bowls and has the most playoff experience of any opposing quarterback that the Packers could face.

Tampa Bay has the league’s top-rated run defense and the fourth best passing offense this season by yards per game. That helps make them formidable on both sides of the ball.

The Packers need not fear the Buccaneers, but they would certainly prefer to see another team first and give two other teams a chance to knock them off before facing them in the NFC Championship Game if necessary.

3. Los Angeles Rams (6th seed) 10-6-0

The Rams are a warm-weather team who struggled down the stretch and have injury issues at quarterback. Jared Goff missed the season finale after suffering a thumb injury. He was replaced by John Wolford who started in the win over Arizona in the season finale. Neither of them is among the top quarterbacks in the league right now.

Los Angeles has a strong defense and that is something that is often overlooked. The Rams defense is ranked first by yards allowed, first against the pass and third against the run.

The Rams defense could give the Packers some difficulty and the offense is in many ways a mirror image of Matt LaFleur’s system. LaFleur worked with Sean McVay in the past and the two are from the same coaching tree.

Los Angeles has some talented receivers in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd give the Rams two outstanding pass rushers who would present a big challenge for the Packers rebuilt offensive line. Corey Linsley and Elgton Jenkins may need help to contain Donald who recorded 13.5 sacks from the interior line.

The Packers did not face Los Angeles this year but lost to the Rams in Los Angeles. The last meeting between the two teams took place in Los Angeles in 2018 with the Rams winning 29-27.

The Rams open the playoffs in Seattle against the Seahawks.

2. Chicago Bears (7th seed) 8-8-0

The Packers have already played the Bears twice and beaten them handily in both games. The cliché is that it is never easy to beat a team three times in one season, but the Pack have had the Bears number in recent years, having won nine of the last 10 meetings.

Mitch Trubisky played a little better in the last few games of the season, but even at his best he is nowhere close to the quarterback that Aaron Rodgers is.

The Bears defense is their strength. Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks are talented players who are difference makers when they’re at their best.

The offense is mediocre, however, and if David Montgomery can’t move the ball on the ground, they will struggle to get the ball downfield. Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney are talented starting receivers.

The Bears are an inconsistent but talented team but the Packers are clearly better on paper. Chicago’s defense gives the Packers concern, but this is a team Green Bay should beat.

The Bears open the playoffs in New Orleans Sunday afternoon when they face the Saints.

1. Washington Football Team (4th seed) 7-9-0

Let’s face it, 14 NFL teams make the playoffs but the Washington Football Team is not among the best 14 teams in the league. They are only in the postseason because they play in the league’s weakest division and somebody had to win it. In fact, the WFT lost more games than they won this season despite playing six games against poor NFC East opponents.

Washington has the league’s 30th best offense and has struggled at quarterback. Alex Smith has returned from injury and he is their best option at quarterback when healthy but the team does not have a highly-regarded passing attack.

Terry McLaurin, J.D. McKissic and Logan Thomas are the top three receiving targets. McLaurin is a young and talented deep threat. Antonio Gibson has scored 11 touchdowns and averages 4.7-yard per rush.

The Washington defense is the strength of their team and why they can’t be completely overlooked. They are second against the pass in yards allowed per game and second overall in yards given up.

Chase Young and Montez Sweat give Washington two strong, young pass rushers while Kendall Fuller led the team with four interceptions.

On paper, the Packers should have little trouble dispending of Washington in Green Bay although the visitors could keep the game close for a while. Washington would be the easiest opponent the Packers could face in the next round of the playoffs.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (37)

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frankthefork's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:03 pm

Tampa had our MO last time. I would really hate to see TB12 the GOAT vs the MVP AR12 again.
We know running the ball is the key to any playoff victories; and the Buc's are (agreed) very stingy.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:43 pm

I agree they would be our biggest challenge. I think we could beat them in Green Bay but it wouldn't be easy and the Packers would have to play one of their better games to do it. Thanks for the comment, frankthefork.

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Since'61's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:15 pm

Agree with Washington as the 1st choice but I doubt they get past Tampa.
I would prefer not to see the Bears again especially in our 1st playoff game. Very difficult to defeat the same team 3 times in one season and especially just after playing them 2 weeks ago.

Rams have a good defense but they are a mess at QB.

Tampa is the last team I want to see but I’m afraid that they are most likely our next opponent.

Thanks, Since ‘61

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:36 pm

We say Washington, but in order for them to be on the slate, they need to beat Tampa, who nobody really seems to want to play. My dad always used to ask, "Why would you want to play the team that beat the team you really didn't want to play?"

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:53 pm

LOL. Well said, dobber. Sometimes it's about matchups. The Vikings, for example, have matched up well with the Saints in recent years. The Bucs strengths seem to match up well with the Packers weaknesses. If somebody else can knock them off for us, so much the better. Either way, you have to beat some good teams to win a Super Bowl. Thanks as always for commenting.

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dobber's picture

January 08, 2021 at 08:22 am

Getting to -- and winning -- the SB is often as much about being lucky as it is about being good. We could be talking about health or weather. How those other chips fall in determining who comes to Lambeau is where there might be some bit of luck.

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Ryan3468's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:38 pm

If we played the Bears ten times this year we would win all of those games. If we played eleven times they would find a W. No matter who the Packers face. It’s a new season. We just have to step up and win.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:51 pm

That is the bottom line Ryan3468. In the playoffs, it's win or go home and there are very few gimme games. Thanks for the comment.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:49 pm

I agree Tampa is the most likely opponent barring an upset. I wouldn't mind the Bears but like you, I have this nagging feeling about trying to beat a team 3 times in a season, and 3 times since late November. Nobody said the road to the Super Bowl was easy, but at least it goes through Lambeau Field. Thanks as always for commenting Since'61.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 08, 2021 at 04:15 am

I believe the most likely opponent Packers will face in divisional round are Rams. There is no way Seattle will beat Rams twice in a row. To good D for so-so Seattle offense.

If we are afraid of 3rd game against Bears, Seahawks and Rams are in the exactly similar position, with one small difference - Rams already beat Seahawks once.

I predict divisional round - Rams at Packers, Tampa at Saints.

And Saints has the Tampa number in their hands...

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dobber's picture

January 08, 2021 at 08:20 am

The Rams D presents bigger difficulties for the Packers than TB's does, IMO. They might not have LBs who are as good, but they've got a defensive front that might be BETTER, a stronger secondary, and are less susceptible to the big play...bigger defensive challenge for the Packers than the Yucs.

Still, LA's offense has been pretty inconsistent this season, and Jared Goff has shown (if he plays) that he's just as likely to be a problem for his own squad than the opposition. A Packers-Rams game at Lambeau could be a low-scoring grind.

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sundaycheezeday's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:15 pm

Since their Super Bowl victory in 2010, the Packers have been beaten in the playoffs by a team that also beat them in the regular season, every. single. year, except for 1, 2011. Check this out:

2012 - Lost to 49ers in Regular Season by 8, and in Playoffs by 14
2013 - Lost to 49ers in Regular Season by 6, and in Playoffs by 3
2014 - Lost to Seahawks in Regular Season by 20, and in Playoffs by 6
2015 - Lost to Cardinals in Regular Season by 30, and in Playoffs by 6
2016 - Lost to Falcons in Regular Season by 1, and in Playoffs by 23
2017 and 2018 - Did not qualify
2019 - Lost to 49ers in Regular Season by 29, and in Playoffs by 17

in 2011, at 11-0, we did beat the Giants by 3, but this was the game where the Packers first truly struggled, and gave the footprint of how the Packers could be beat with a solid 4 man rush, which they then used to beat us in the playoffs by 17.

My point is that, while I should agree with your rankings, and this history clearly shows us why, I actually would prefer to play the Buccaneers in the playoffs. While I don't typically believe in superstitions or that what happens in the past will affect the outcome, I just have this overwhelming sense that there is a demon that needs to be exercised here. The Packers this year just feel...different. Whereas previous years, there is a glaring weakness to their team (generally the defense), this year they just feel pretty good, even if not spectacular, in every phase of the game. I feel like the run defense and physicality of the team has improved over the second half of the season. They won't get pushed around by the Buc's front 4 again.

I welcome the challenge of the Buccaneers, and think this is the year they will break through the team that foiled them in the regular season, clearing their path to the Super Bowl. For this reason, they are the number one team I hope we face.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:58 pm

I love your attitude and I also have a different feeling about this year's team. Regardless of who they play in the first round, they are going to have to get past some very good teams to win a championship. May as well get the Bucs over with. Thanks for the comment, sundaycheezeday and for the research.

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Crankbait's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:59 pm

Pack will not beat the Bucs. They completely got blown away by their front four. Kicking our ass gives them a huge psychological edge. The only thing different now is that Baktiari is out for the season.
If Brady gets hurt in their first game, then we could beat them.

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Archie's picture

January 09, 2021 at 10:57 am

If we get the Bucs, I don't want to throw/run wide this time. Instead, take them on more straight on. Would negate their speed advantage.

MLF and Hackett are good coaches so I am confident they would devise good game plan based on what didn't work first time around. Rodgers got flummoxed in that game and lost his poise and then the offense followed suit. That is only time I have ever seen that happen to AR. Won't happen again, I don't think so I'm good with playing Bucs if we have to. Aaron Donald scares me as he often requires triple teaming and RAMS secondary is very good. Luckily their offense is banged up. Also, since their offense is our offense, advantage to both defenses. Look for under game if it happens.

My druthers is the Bears again because as we all know, they still suck! :)

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dobber's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:34 pm

"The Packers did not face Los Angeles this year but lost to the Rams in Los Angeles."

Wow...yeah, that MUST be a good team...

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:59 pm

lol. good catch

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croatpackfan's picture

January 08, 2021 at 04:18 am

But they beat the Rams @ Lambeau few years ago!

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SpikeHyzer's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:39 pm

This corrects the error at the top in the Packerswire rankings (WFT is much worse than the Bears).
However, I think it's a useless exercise since there is almost no chance we play anyone but the Bucs.

The Bucs floundered a bit this year while we got better. I like the chance for revenge and to correct our errors.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:59 pm

It would take just one upset for us to avoid the Bucs, but how likely is that upset? I would say unlikely. Thanks for the comment, SpikeHyzer.

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murf7777's picture

January 08, 2021 at 08:02 am

I would disagree, there seems to always be an upset on wildcard weekend. I think it’s more likely then not.

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splitpea1's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:47 pm

If it turns out to be Tampa Bay, they could be a bit dinged up from playing the physical WFT defense. I never root for injury, but then again, we earned the right to sit this round out.

Beating a team three times was no problem for: Giants over Redskins, 1986; Packers over Colts, 1965; Giants over Eagles, 2000. Twice teams couldn't win the third game: Seahawks vs. Raiders, 1983; Raiders vs. Chiefs, 1969. There could be more, but that's all I'm aware of.

Losing teams shouldn't be allowed in the playoffs. Give WFT the boot and bring the Dolphins over to our side and seed them at the bottom.They beat three out of four NFC West teams, and anyway, it would be fun to see what damage an interloper could do.

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:01 pm

I like the idea of bringing a winning team over, but the NFL will never do it, they view the division titles as sacred. We shall see what happens this weekend. One upset and we avoid the Bucs, but either way, we have to beat some good teams to win a title. Thanks for the comment and the research, splitpea1.

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Norm's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:26 pm

I’m pretty sure the Favre-led Packers beat (coincidentally) Tampa Bay three times in one season back in the 90’s or early 2000’s. Too lazy to look it up though.

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splitpea1's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:38 pm

You're right, 1997.

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Chevy572rat's picture

January 07, 2021 at 04:50 pm

I agree Sundaycheeseday, I would be preparing for the Bucs already. Bring em on !! If we can't get the job done then we don't belong. But oh do I believe we belong !! If I remember right, the start of the regular season meeting we were kinda controlling the game until everything went to shit. The Packers aren't that team anymore. If our defense can pressure Brady off his spot and/or timing, he'll hit the deck like he was hit in the head with a shovel. I think MLF kinda kept Dillon under wraps against the Bears to get him more touches in the playoffs. Out of sight out of mind . If our ground game produces like I think it will, AR is way too focused to stop now and will slice up that defense. As Kevin Greene would say, " It's Time ". Send Brady, Gronk, and Basketcase Brown packing !!! GO PACK !!!!!!

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GilMartin's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:03 pm

Yeah, it's time. To be the best, you have to beat the best. If it's the Bucs, bring em on. I know this team is capable of beating anybody they may face, although they can also lose to any of them. Thanks for the comment, Chevy572rat.

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rickhenderson33's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:19 pm

Tampa Bay. Beat Brady first game!

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Tundraboy's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:19 pm

extremely nervous about playing Tampa and matching up with Brady even if it's in lambeau mostly because while we played earlier in the year and just sometimes what happens with us

But you know what, the hell with that. Maybe it's because this year just feels different, very different. My only worry really is if we do not make the play call adjustments needed in these types of games, and play those players who we have seen give us the best chance to win.

So bring on Brady or anyone we play. Got to beat whoever you play so why not Brady Brees or Wilson.This year feels.like 2010 we can beat anyone. If I have any wish, not Seattle. Just sick of seeing Petey's face.

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PhantomII's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:49 pm

If we play the Bucs their ILB's are very fast. It seems last time Jones had one of them meet him often when he was running outside. Maybe use a TE to get the RB to the secondary on outside runs and Dillon right up the gut on inside runs. The D is going to have to scheme a little more aggressive plays to stop their offense so Rodgers can do his thing. I would like to see Snacks and Clark as DT's with our OLB's. Hopefully Keke is good from his injury and Sternberger must have had a bad concussion to be out this long. Our guys are playing their best ball and seem keyed up this year to not end like the last. We have a chip on the shoulder. Gary needs more snaps. He's really starting to turn it on. Fingers crossed on ST play.

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PhantomII's picture

January 08, 2021 at 05:26 pm

Washington Football Team has a good defense. They seem motivated. their QB is back. I wonder if their owner is going to pick another name
any time soon.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 08, 2021 at 04:19 am

Good one!

Or maybe in "Native American Team!"

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PhantomII's picture

January 08, 2021 at 05:21 pm

They had good SB teams back in the day. Riggins was a stud.

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raedwallaceee's picture

January 07, 2021 at 11:31 pm

xcbbxcxcbxcb

xbc

xbc

xb

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barutanseijin's picture

January 08, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Don’t care.

I dislike this game because it betrays lack of confidence. If anything, i’d prefer matchups with the stronger teams because i want to see a well played game.

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4thand10's picture

January 09, 2021 at 10:41 pm

I don’t wanna see Tampa...it’s like they are an assembled team with all the best players from around the NFL . A. Brown. Brate, Gronk, Fornette, Suh, Evans, Brady...etc It’s basically a fantasy football all star cast. And now they have the wrinkles worked out. For our packers to even have a chance...they have to play extra DL just like the Tennessee game..because Tampa’s Oline is even better.

O line side they will have to use an extra tackle..because Tampa’s D line is just that good. A heavy dose of M. Lewis, Dafney and Dillon is what I think is needed for this game. Power O. I’m watching the Tampa / Washington game right now and Tampa has been in coast mode the whole game...it looks closer than what it is. Washington is getting creamed on both sides of the ball. Washington has the OLBs fans here were clamoring for, On DL I wanted Payne as a packer even. But other than a handful of plays they were pretty much ineffective, that style of defense was ineffective.
Other than Adams... I have doubts GBs WRs can catch contested catches like Washington’s. They will have to be schemed open.

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sohankhan's picture

January 15, 2021 at 12:15 am

The Green Bay Packers come out of their bye week and hit the road to visit the Los Angeles Rams, who are the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 7-0. Here's a look at this series - past, present and future.

FOR FREE :https://kotvlive.blogspot.com/NFL/

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