Note: This story was written before the San Francisco 49ers upset the Dallas Cowboys. CLICK HERE for an early look at the Green Bay Packers' divisional playoff game against the 49ers.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers overwhelming the Philadelphia Eagles, the Green Bay Packers are ensured of getting a familiar opponent in next weekend’s divisional round.
If the No. 6 San Francisco 49ers upset the No. 3 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, the Packers will host the 49ers on Saturday or Sunday. If Dallas wins, the Packers will host the winner of Monday night’s game between the No. 5 Arizona Cardinals and No. 4 Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
The Packers beat all three teams this season. All three teams are superb on the road.
No. 6 San Francisco (10-7)
Green Bay won at San Francisco 30-28 in Week 3. The Packers led 17-0 late in the first half following touchdowns by Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. The 49ers, though, rallied in the fourth quarter. Kyle Juscczyk’s 12-yard touchdown reception with 37 seconds gave them a 28-27 lead. Green Bay won, though, with a sensational half-minute drill. Aaron Rodgers connected with Adams for gains of 25 and 17 yards to set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal at the gun.
Good omen: The 49ers finished minus-4 in turnovers. Their secondary was vulnerable in Week 3, when Rodgers had a 113.3 passer rating and Adams caught 12 passes for 131 yards, and remains vulnerable today.
Bad omen: The 49ers’ backfield had been obliterated by injuries for that first matchup. They rushed for only 67 yards on 21 carries, so who knows if that game means anything in the grand scheme of things. Healthy again, Elijah Mitchell finished eighth with 963 rushing yards in 11 games. Receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle are superstars at their positions, and receiver Brandon Aiyuk caught 10 passes for 201 yards in the final two games. The 49ers ranked third in total defense, third in sack percentage and 12th in points allowed. The Niners have won seven of their last nine overall and finished 6-3 on the road.
No. 5 Arizona (11-6)
Green Bay won at Arizona 24-21 in Week 8 to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season. Like the San Francisco game, the Packers controlled the game before needing a big play to clinch the victory. Randall Cobb’s 6-yard touchdown reception made it 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. The win wasn’t secured until Rasul Douglas’ end-zone interception in the final seconds.
Good omen: The Packers played without Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. That the Packers won, anyway, is incredibly impressive. Moreover, it made their 151 rushing yards a really noteworthy number.
Bad omen: Everyone remembers Douglas’ game-winning play but it happened because star quarterback Kyle Murray and veteran receiver A.J. Green weren’t on the same page on the pivotal play. The Packers barely won the game despite holding Murray to a 67.0 passer rating – his worst of the season – and owning a 15-minute advantage in time of possession. The Cardinals finished plus-12 in turnovers, one behind Green Bay’s plus-13. Murray’s 119.5 passer rating on third down was tops in the NFL; Green Bay's third-down defense has not been good. The Cardinals are an impressive 8-1 on the road; their only loss, oddly enough, was at Detroit.
No. 4 Los Angeles (12-5)
The Packers beat the Rams 36-28 at Lambeau Field in Week 12. Green Bay led wire to wire and clinched the game on Rasul Douglas’ 33-yard pick-six late in the third quarter, which made it 36-17. Neither team ran the ball; their 52 total carries produced a long run of 8 yards. Rodgers was 28-of-45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford went 21-of-38 for 302 yards and three touchdowns but made the game’s biggest mistake.
Good omen: The Rams were coming off their bye but couldn’t take advantage. Green Bay’s defense was terrific aside from touchdown receptions of 79 yards by Van Jefferson and 54 yards by Odell Beckham. The Rams couldn’t handle Adams (8-of-9 targets for 104 yards) or Cobb (5-of-5 for 95 yards). Stafford threw eight interceptions the past three weeks.
Bad omen: The Rams went 7-2 on the road, with their lone losses at midseason to San Francisco and Green Bay, so they’re road warriors, too. With Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Beckham on offense and Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Leonard Floyd and Jalen Ramsey on defense, the Rams have the star power to beat any team in the league. Can the Packers beat the Rams three times in about a calendar year?