Ranking Packers’ potential opponents in NFC Divisional Round

Zach Kruse
·4 min read

The top-seeded Green Bay Packers have four potential opponents in the NFC Divisional Round.

Based on the results of the first round, the Packers could play the Washington Football Team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams or Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on either Jan. 16 or Jan. 17.

Here’s a power ranking of the potential opponents, based on the difficulty of the matchup for the Packers and in descending order, starting with the easiest matchup:

4. Chicago Bears

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

Beating a team three times in a single season might be tough, but the Packers couldn't ask for a better outcome during Wild Card Weekend than a Bears' win over the second-seeded New Orleans Saints, which would send Chicago to Green Bay. Matt LaFleur's team beat the Bears twice this season by a final tally of 76-41, including a 41-25 win at Lambeau Field (the Packers led 41-10 at one point in the second half). Aaron Rodgers threw eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in the two meetings, and the Packers defense delivered five turnovers, including three interceptions of Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears gave the Packers their best shot at Soldier Field in the season finale and still lost by 19 points. How the matchup can happen: Bears win over Saints

3. Washington Football Team

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith (91) sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) during the second quarter of their football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

The potential worry with welcoming Washington to Green Bay is the defense, which ranked fourth in points allowed and second in yards allowed during the 2020 season. They are stingy against quarterbacks (81.4 passer rating), good at getting pressure (47 sacks) and great in the big situations (sixth on third down, fourth in the red zone), and they'd have to beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to get to the next round. The Washington front, featuring top rookie Chase Young, could really challenge the Packers' reshuffled offensive line. Then again, Washington is 25th in points scored and lacks a dynamic passing game, drastically lessening the chances of an upset. If the Packers' pass protection held up, they'd likely feel very good about advancing in this matchup. How the matchup can happen: Saints win over Bears, Seahawks win over Rams, Washington Football Team win over Buccaneers

2. Los Angeles Rams

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams are tough to figure out, especially with their current situation at quarterback (Jared Goff injury), but they could have the individual pieces and coaching to give the Packers a lot of trouble. The Rams defense ranked first in points and yards allowed and features difference-making players at every level, especially up front (Aaron Donald) and in the secondary (Jalen Ramsey). The offense is an enigma, but Sean McVay is a master schemer and running back Cam Akers and receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp can all create trouble. Matt LaFleur has never faced McVay, one of his closest coaching friends. While the Packers would enjoy a notable advantage at quarterback, the Rams have the pieces around the position to beat just about anyone in the playoff field. How the matchup can happen: Saints win over Bears, Rams win over Seahawks

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Week 6 already provided an early look at this matchup. The Packers raced out to a 10-0 lead but then fell apart, with two Aaron Rodgers interceptions jump-starting a 38-0 Buccaneers run to finish the game. The guess here is that the Packers wouldn't shy away from a rematch in the cold at Lambeau Field. The Buccaneers have been up and down all season, but Bruce Arians' team is talented and balanced, with the ability to score points in bunches and make life difficult on opposing quarterbacks. Tom Brady (40 touchdown passes) provides a veteran passer who can play the dink and dunk game against the Packers defense, and the Bucs' pass-rush already overwhelmed Green Bay's pass protection in the first meeting. This looks like the most likely matchup for the Packers, but also the most difficult. How the matchup can happen: Saints win over Bears, Seahawks win over Rams, Buccaneers win over Washington Football Team

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