Familiarity a theme at this stage of postseason

Packers getting accustomed to rematches in playoffs


GREEN BAY – Once again, the Packers are no strangers to their playoff opponent.

As the Packers embark on a fourth trip to the NFC Championship Game under Head Coach Mike McCarthy, for the fourth time the opponent is one Green Bay faced in the same regular season.

The Packers played the Falcons back in Week 8 on Oct. 30, just as in 2014 they had already played Seattle, in 2010 the Bears (twice) and in 2007 the Giants.

In fact, every playoff game for Green Bay this month has been a regular-season rematch, but the Packers knew that would be the case going in. They had faced all five of the other NFC playoff qualifiers this season.

This year, the Falcons matchup was the latest of the three against the other NFC contenders, with the Giants and Cowboys games taking place earlier in October.

The previous contests have meant little thus far, as the Packers didn't start playing playoff-caliber football until after Thanksgiving. The one-point loss in Atlanta became the first of four straight defeats before Green Bay turned its fortunes around.

The Falcons were the much more consistent team, losing consecutive games only once this season, a two-game skid that immediately preceded the Week 8 visit from the Packers.

It could be argued the Falcons are just as hot as the Packers. Atlanta's last loss came on Dec. 4, due to a "pick-two" when Kansas City's Eric Berry returned an interception on a two-point conversion the other way to give the Chiefs a one-point triumph.

Since then, the Falcons have won five straight by an average of 19 points, including last week's divisional playoff victory over Seattle.

The Packers, of course, have won eight straight, giving the two teams a collective 13-game winning streak coming into Sunday's showdown.

As the saying goes, something's gotta give.

Getting back to familiarity for a moment, should the Packers triumph to earn a berth in Super Bowl LI, either opponent would create yet another rematch, historically speaking.

AFC title game participants Pittsburgh and New England are the two teams the Packers defeated in their most recent Super Bowl triumphs, in XXXI and XLV.

But there will be plenty of time to tackle that storyline next week, should the Packers prevail on Sunday.

One familiar foe at a time.

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