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'Job is not done' for Packers

Playoff bye is more progress toward the prize

Packers WR Davante Adams celebrates his 6-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 35-26 victory over the Chicago Bears
Packers WR Davante Adams celebrates his 6-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 35-26 victory over the Chicago Bears

The first objective was the NFC North. Check.

Then the focus shifted to getting the No. 1 seed. Check again.

But as the Packers chalked off another goal with Sunday's 35-16 win over the Bears at Soldier Field, earning the NFC's only first-round bye as well as home-field advantage, the celebration afterward carried the same undertone.

This is progress, but it's not the destination. Not even close.

"The job is not done," safety Adrian Amos said. "We put ourselves in this situation to conquer the ultimate goal. This is just the next step in that journey."

To be sure, there was some celebrating going on postgame. Getting to rest up over the first weekend of the playoffs is worth smiling about, and it even prompted Head Coach Matt LaFleur to start dancing in the locker room.

Most of the dancing is usually left to running back Jamaal Williams, but LaFleur promised him he'd "bust out a few moves" if the Packers did what they needed to Sunday.

Rhythm, or lack thereof, aside, Aaron Rodgers referred to getting to "recharge" for a playoff run in which the Packers can reach the Super Bowl without leaving the friendly confines of Lambeau Field.

While home-field advantage in this pandemic season isn't what it normally would be, since no fans are in the stands, the Packers believe it still will matter because of the Green Bay weather that some of their potential playoff opponents – like the Rams, Buccaneers or Saints – won't be accustomed to.

"It's a world of difference," receiver Davante Adams said. "People play different, people act different, they talk different, everything (is different) coming through Lambeau. It is what it is. You can come in and try to bark and be barefoot pregame, shirt off and do whatever you want to do, but at the end of the day it's a beast playing in that snow. It's a beast playing in that weather.

"It's not going to be easy but it gives us a tremendous amount of confidence knowing we're at home. And from what I've seen in the past, it's taken that confidence away from our opponents."

The Packers have four possible matchups for the divisional round – Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Washington, or Chicago again – depending on how next weekend's wild-card games unfold. They'll find out the specific day and time of their game late next Sunday. Green Bay would not face New Orleans or Seattle until a possible NFC title game.

Soldier Field hosted a Week 17 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.

The Packers will enter the postseason on a six-game winning streak, and while they did not take advantage of the No. 1 seed and bye the last time they had it in 2011, Rodgers isn't concerned about this team getting stagnant with the time off.

The Packers won their first playoff game after a bye in both 2014 and last year. The difference this year is another divisional-round win will set up the conference title game at home.

"I'm not worried about any rust or anything," Rodgers said. "We've been really solid all season in situational football and we were again today on third down and red zone. So I like our chances going forward."

LaFleur said he's giving the players a couple of days off and then they'll get back to work during the bye week. Banged-up players can hopefully get healthy, and the offensive line can further settle into its new alignment without left tackle David Bakhtiari following his season-ending knee injury.

Keeping the coronavirus out of the locker room remains of utmost importance as well. That threat doesn't disappear just because the regular season has concluded.

LaFleur is stressing discipline and responsibility from all involved. It'll play a part as the Packers try to get back to a Super Bowl for the first time in a decade.

"We will celebrate this and we're happy that the road to Tampa goes through Lambeau," LaFleur said, referring to the site of Super Bowl LV. "But we also understand that there's a lot in front of us."

That message didn't even need to get through, because it's already been there.

"It's a big thing around the locker room that this is not … this wasn't our only goal," Amos said. "This was just the start of it."

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