The Packers made the Super Bowl the hard way last year. The path back to a title game looks much easier this time around.
Green Bay’s 35-21 victory over the Bears on Sunday night accomplished a lot. It clinched homefield advantage for the playoffs. It knocked the Bears out of the playoff mix. It also sent the Falcons to the playoffs as a wild card team.
Barring some big upsets, the Packers, 49ers, and Saints should be the top three seeds in the NFC playoffs. Green Bay should now avoid San Francisco and New Orleans until the NFC Championship, which will be played in Lambeau Field if the Packers can just win in the Divisional Round.
Sunday night’s game was a reminder how hard it will be to win in Green Bay in January. The Bears actually did a lot of things right in the first half and cut the lead to 14-10 just after halftime.
And they still got blown out.
The margin for error when facing the Packers is so slow. Sure, the Packers defense gives up a lot of yards and is weak at the point of attack. They also tend to intercept a couple of passes every week, which gives Aaron Rodgers extra possessions.
Giving Rodgers extra help on this night was a death wish. He threw five touchdowns on only 28 attempts, for 293 yards.
For the year, Rodgers has 45 touchdowns and six interceptions. Drew Brees has been great, but he has four games with multiple picks this year. Rodgers has none.
Rodgers makes it look easy. He throws 55-yard strikes to Jordy Nelson just as smoothly as one-yard scoring tosses into tight windows. He even eluded Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs on one run to keep one scoring drive alive.
Brees has been great, but Rodgers has played the position as well as any quarterback can.
The Packers, led by Rodgers, won the regular season. No one could beat the Packers in Lambeau.
Some team will have to upset the champs on their home turf in the postseason or the Packers are headed back to the Super Bowl.