Wait, what's that you say? The NFC Conference game isn't until January 23rd? I see.
There's no doubt that Bears fans have felt the Chicago Bears have been disrespected this season. It's also no secret that the Green Bay Packers have gotten a lot of love for being a six seed.
This week's print edition of Sports Illustrated (Cover Date: January 10th, 2010) is their NFL Playoff Preview, and it features Peter King's (@SI_PeterKing) playoff picks, which include the Packers meeting the Patriots at Dallas in February.
Why the love for this Packers team? Why so much faith in a 6 seed team? King doesn't really justify, at all, his position in the article, other than saying he thinks the Packers will survive a tough road in the NFC. But will they? Let's take a look at what Green Bay has done, and would have to accomplish to make this a reality.
The Packers roadplay this season has been, what you could call, less than stellar. As you'll find by visiting Pro Football Reference, here's a quick summary of the 2010 season:
Home: 7-1 - Loss to Dolphins in OT
Away: 3-5 - Losses to Bears, Redskins (OT), Falcons, Lions, Patriots
As can be seen, that's 4 road losses to conference teams... teams that are often ranked below them in the various power rankings that you'll see floating around. Any one of those wins would have put them into contention for their division, especially the win against the Bears, but they just couldn't get the breaks in any of them.
Now here's a quick look at the path the Packers are looking at, just to get to the NFC conference game.
Wild Card Round: in Philly vs. Eagles
The Key difference this time: The Packers have over 25% of the roster from Week 1 on IR, on the road, against one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league.
Rodgers ran 12 times for 51 yards, and 1 TD. Jackson ran 10 times for 26 yards. Rodgers had 344 yards in the game, amassing about 134 of them in the final quarter, as the Packers had to go for broke. Atlanta has proven to be a tough place to play this year. They've only taken one home loss, and that was to the Saints in Week 16, when the Falcons had already ensured that they were in the playoffs, and with what accounts for a "gimme" game in Week 17.