With a victory tonight, the Green Bay Packers can clinch the NFC’s No.1 seed. Rasul Douglas and the Green Bay Packers need one more victory to secure the NFC’s top seed. ASSOCIATED PRESS With a victory over Minnesota tonight, the Green Bay Packers will clinch the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye.
The Packers (12-3) and Vikings (7-8) meet at Lambeau Field at 7:20 p.m. (CST). Green Bay received a boost when second-seeded Dallas lost to Arizona, dropped to 11-5, and fell to the fourth seed in the conference. The Los Angeles Rams (12-4) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) earned the No.2 and No.3 seeds, respectively, in the NFC playoffs.
The Packers hold tiebreakers over both the Rams and Buccaneers, so with one more victory, they will secure the No.1 seed. After testing positive for COVID on Friday, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins will miss the game. The Vikings will start journeyman quarterback Sean Mannion, who has yet to throw a touchdown pass in his seven-year career.
- The Packers, who had been a 6.5-point favorite for the majority of the week, jumped to a 13-point favorite after the Cousins news broke.
- Since Brett Favre arrived in 1992 and reversed a generation of losing football in the NFL’s smallest city, this would be the fourth time Green Bay has claimed the NFC’s top seed.
In 1996, the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl as the top seed, whereas in 2011 and 2020, Green Bay fell short as the top seed. Here is a summary of Green Bay’s performances as the No.1 seed over the past few seasons:
How does Green Bay obtain the top seed?
Packers Earn No.1 Seed; Here’s Why This Is Significant GREEN BAY, Wis. – Sunday night’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings gave the Green Bay Packers the No.1 seed in the NFC playoffs and home-field advantage. Despite last year’s humiliating loss in the NFC Championship Game, this is a significant reward.
All 14 teams that reached the Super Bowl in the seven postseasons from 2013 to 2019 were either the No.1 or No.2 seed, meaning a first-round bye. That changed during the expanded postseason last year. The NFC South runner-up Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the No.5 seed won three road games to advance to the Super Bowl, which they won on their home field.
After the game, coach Matt LaFleur said, “I don’t think anybody in that locker room is going to take a deep breath and say, ‘Hey, we’ve arrived.'” Every game from here on out is essentially win-or-go-home, and you must prepare throughout the week to be at your best; we know this going into every game.
How can the Packers improve their home-field advantage?
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – As soon as the Minnesota Vikings placed starting quarterback Kirk Cousins on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, it was no longer a question of whether the Green Bay Packers would win at home on Sunday, but by how much. Moreover, what would be at stake? The answer to both is numerous.
The Packers took a 20-3 lead into halftime and never looked back, cruising to a 37-10 victory at Lambeau Field. The victory secured the NFC’s top overall playoff seed for the second consecutive season. With a 13-3 record for the third consecutive year, the Packers do not need to win next week to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the only first-round bye in the conference.
With a comfortable lead, the Packers used Sunday night’s victory to crown themselves champions. Records fell. New norms were established. Start with Aaron Rodgers’ first touchdown of the night, a 20-yard back-shoulder pass to Allen Lazard, who made a smart adjustment in the right corner of the end zone.
It was Rodgers’ 55th touchdown pass against the Vikings, surpassing Brett Favre’s previous record of 54. MORE: NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE: After surpassing Favre earlier in the season for most touchdown passes thrown against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers has now thrown more touchdown passes against the Packers’ two major rivals.
Rodgers appears to be pulling away from the competition for NFL MVP as the regular season winds down. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.8 before being replaced by Jordan Love with 7:18 remaining in a blowout. With 3,977 yards, 35 touchdown passes, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 111, Rodgers is the clear favorite to win his second consecutive MVP award.
Sunday night, the quarterback was serenaded with “MVP” chants multiple times. It would be Rodgers’ fourth career touchdown pass, second only to Peyton Manning’s five in NFL history. Rodgers’ second touchdown pass on Sunday night came from 11 yards out with 1:09 remaining before halftime, effectively ending the game with a 20-0 lead for the Packers.
- It was also awarded to Davante Adams, who enjoyed a night.
- Before halftime, Adams caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
- He finished with 11 receptions for 136 yards.
- Adams’ 11 receptions this season gave him a total of 117, surpassing his previous single-season franchise record of 115.
- Beginning the fourth quarter with a 5-yard reception in the left flat, he broke the record.
His night ended 22 yards short of the Packers’ single-season record. In 2014, Jordy Nelson set the record with 1,519 yards. The All-Pro receiver joined Donald Driver (10,137 yards), James Lofton (9,656 yards), and Sterling Sharpe in becoming the fourth wideout in Packers history to surpass 8,000 yards (8,134).
- Sunday night, he surpassed Don Hutson’s career total of 7,991 yards.
- Adams joins Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Calvin Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald as the only receivers in NFL history with at least 600 receptions, 8,000 yards, and 70 touchdowns in their first eight seasons.
- This is Hall of Fame material.
It was not only an offensive night. Additionally, the Packers’ defense moved closer to milestones. Rashan Gary and Preston Smith each recorded a sack, continuing their race to reach ten sacks first. This season, Gary has 9.5 sacks, which is more than the seven sacks he had in his first two seasons combined.
- Smith has nine sacks, which is remarkable considering he only had two sacks through the first eight games of the season.
- He has seven sacks in his last seven games, putting last year’s slump behind him in the second half of the season.
- It was the Packers’ most convincing victory of the season, which is not surprising considering the Vikings’ quarterback situation without Kirk Cousins.
The victory represented perhaps the most impressive milestone of the evening on its own. Matt LaFleur has led the Packers to 39 receptions in his first three seasons as head coach, the most by any NFL head coach in his first three seasons. Next week, LaFleur could earn his 40th victory in Detroit.
What must the Packers do to win the division?
GREEN BAY – The Packers must wait at least one additional week to clinch the NFC North. As a result of Minnesota’s victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Green Bay’s magic number to clinch the division remains at two. On Sunday night against the Bears, the Packers can at most reduce it to one.
Green Bay still has a chance to secure at least a wild-card playoff spot. To qualify for the playoffs, the Packers must defeat the Bears and hope that New Orleans and San Francisco both lose. Therefore, to expedite Green Bay’s postseason qualification, cheer for the Jets to defeat the Saints and the Bengals to defeat the 49ers.
If both of these outcomes occur on Sunday afternoon, the Packers will have the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot by defeating the Bears at Lambeau Field that evening. (There is an additional scenario in which the Saints and Rams both lose and the 49ers tie, but ties are so uncommon that it is hardly worth mentioning.
- In addition, as noted below, it is more advantageous for the Packers if the Rams win this week.) As a whole, the top five teams in the NFC are separated by two games and are currently ranked as follows.1.
- Arizona (10-2), 2.
- Green Bay (9-3), 3.
- Tampa Bay (9-3), 4.
- Dallas (8-4), 5.
- LA Rams (8-4).
- All teams have now had their byes, so from now on everyone will play every week.
Monday night’s matchup between Arizona and Los Angeles will be the most important of the week. The Rams hope to close to within one game of the Cardinals’ NFC West lead, while Arizona hopes to take a three-game lead with four games remaining and relegate the Rams to the wild-card picture.
- A Cardinals loss would help the Packers tremendously in their pursuit of the No.1 seed, which carries the only NFC bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
- If Green Bay defeats Chicago on Sunday and Los Angeles defeats Arizona on Monday, the Packers would not need any further assistance to claim the top spot because they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Arizona.
So root for the Rams to prevail in the Monday night matchup. Elsewhere on Sunday, Dallas has a crucial NFC East matchup at Washington, which is two games behind the division leader. With the Cowboys close behind the Packers, rooting for Washington to win would help Green Bay maintain its distance.
Before the evening matchup between the Bears and the Packers, Buffalo will face Tampa Bay. This is the Buccaneers’ toughest remaining matchup, as it is their only remaining contest against a team with a winning record. Green Bay currently holds the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay due to a better conference record, so if the Packers continue to win, the Buccaneers cannot catch up to them.
Clearly, however, rooting for the Bills to defeat them would help the Packers, as it’s unlikely that the Buccaneers will suffer a fourth loss elsewhere.