GREEN BAY – Getting past the Arizona Cardinals will be no small task on Saturday night, but if Green Bay succeeds, Sunday becomes a very interesting day in Packer Nation.
With a victory Saturday night, the Packers will advance to the NFC title game for the second straight year. Sunday’s other NFC divisional game, then, determines not only the opponent, but also the location of the conference championship.
Seattle plays at Carolina on Sunday afternoon. As the No. 6 seed, the Seahawks are road warriors all the way, so if they win, an NFC title rematch against the No. 5 seed Packers would take place at Lambeau Field.
The Panthers are the top seed, of course, so if they win, the Packers would be off to Charlotte for a rematch of Week 8, won by Carolina.
Take your pick, Packers fans. Which attempt at revenge would you prefer? Maybe it’s best not to be picky and just pull for the Packers to stay alive.
In case you’re wondering, the long-range forecast in Green Bay for Sunday, Jan. 24, is temperatures in the high 20s with wind chills in the teens, so another Ice Bowl isn’t likely on the horizon. Forecasts can always change, though.
Should the No. 2 seed Cardinals beat the Packers, a curious question is whether Arizona’s fan base would rather see NFC West rival and two-time defending conference champ Seattle eliminated than face the Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium, where Seattle just blew out Arizona in Week 17.
A Seahawks loss, though, would mean the Cardinals would be traveling to Carolina for the NFC title game. An interesting choice, for sure.
On the AFC side, the seeds remaining and order of the games is the same as the NFC.
On Saturday, No. 5 seed Kansas City travels to No. 2 New England. The winner would host the AFC title game if, on Sunday, No. 6 Pittsburgh beats No. 1 Denver. If the Broncos win, they’ll host the KC-NE winner.
As for all the wild-card teams’ chances this week, only once in the past four years has a No. 5 or 6 seed advanced to a conference title game (No. 5 San Francisco in the NFC in 2013).
In the four years before that, however, six teams seeded fifth or sixth won on the road in the divisional round to advance, including the Packers in 2010, of course (the others were the Giants in ’07, the Eagles and Ravens in ’08, and the Jets in both ’09 and ’10).
So, does the current trend continue, or do things revert closer to previous form? The latter has some decent odds, given that this is the first time all of the fifth and sixth seeds won in the wild-card round.