Somewhat quietly, the Green Bay Packers are dubiously on the path of a Minnesota Vikings-like path for NFC Championship performance. On Saturday, the Packers ousted the Los Angeles Rams from the postseason during a 32-18 triumph. Green Bay orchestrated a total team effort in the victory as the offense spread the glory around to Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, and Allen Lazard. The defense held the Rams to 18 points, a rather respectable total in the contemporary NFL.
Although the contest was decided by two full touchdowns, the game was very much in reach for about 80% of the afternoon. Rodgers found Lazard on a 58-yard missile with 6:52 remaining in the fourth quarter to deliver the dagger through the midsection of Sean McVay. Los Angeles’ offense was ho-hum during most of the Divisional Playoff game. Jared Goff (21/27, 197 Yards, 1 TD) delivered a game-manager statline when he probably needed a performance closer to a Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson output. Rookie Cam Akers was admirable with 90 rushing yards on 18 carries. All in all, the Rams defense could not stop the personnel conglomeration of Green Bay’s offense.
On Conference Championship Sunday, the Packers will meet either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints – at Lambeau Field. Tom Brady and Drew Brees will trot 85 combined years of age onto the field in the Superdome for the second half of the NFC’s playoff weekend.
One thing in the NFC is certain – the Packers are heading to the NFC Championship. Should they lose the battle to the Buccaneers or Saints on January 24th, Rodgers and Co. will be perceived as Vikings-like in NFC Championships.
3 Consecutive NFCC Losses
Right now, the Packers have lost three consecutive NFC Championship games. Rodgers is a media darling, so it probably does not feel like their shortfalls are real in retrospect. But they are.
In 2014, Green Bay choked away a sure-fire trip to the Super Bowl versus the New England Patriots. Instead, the green and gold got Wilson-ed. The Packers led 19-7 in the 2014 NFC Championship with about 11 minutes to go. In a shocking flurry of calamities, Green Bay was toppled in overtime, 28-22, by the Seahawks. Seattle would lose the Super Bowl two weeks later to the Patriots.
Two seasons after that, Mike McCarthy’s bunch was eviscerated by the Atlanta Falcons, 44-21. The Falcons jumped all over the Packers early in leading 24-0 at halftime. The score tightened as Atlanta’s defense relaxed. Matt Ryan’s bunch would lose two weeks later to the Patriots.
In 2019, the Packers were thoroughly spanked again — arguably in a more lopsided fashion. San Francisco hopped out to a 27-0 advantage through two quarters and then just toyed with Green Bay after halftime. The 49ers won 37-20 but would ultimately bungle a Super Bowl trophy away to the Kansas City Chiefs.
A loss next weekend at home would drop Green Bay to four straight NFC Championship defeats.
Already Halfway to Vikings Doldrums
That’s when they enter the Vikings territory. Minnesota has capitulated in six consecutive NFC Championships – 1977, 1987, 1998, 2000, 2009, 2017. From the Dallas Cowboys 43 years ago to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, the Vikings have scripted defeat to six different franchises in conference championships.
Green Bay is 50% of the way there. Another heartbreak for Wisconsites next Sunday would plop the Packers at a two-thirds clip in matching the Vikings hideous streak. The national media may actually reference the spurt of misery by the Packers if they lose. Four straight losses in conference championships are difficult to gloss over – even for an Aaron Rodgers-led bunch.
However, Green Bay does have one distinct advantage this time.
First Home NFC Championship in 13 Years
That advantage is of the ‘homefield’ variety. On each occasion for the Packers aforementioned three NFC Championship losses, Green Bay played on the road – in Seattle, Atlanta, and San Francisco. This time, they will host whichever team makes it out of the Buccaneers-Saints matchup.
That is beneficial to the cause for two reasons. First, the weather in January at Lambeau Field is seemingly guaranteed to be cold. Tampa Bay and New Orleans are assuredly not chilly cities. So, Green Bay has a slim perk because of climate.
Then, Lambeau Field is hosting fans once again. For the regular season, the masses were mostly disallowed from attendance. The powers that be in Wisconsin decided to open the facility for the Rams victory and are on pace to do so again for the NFC Championship.
It will be the first NFC Championship at Lambeau Field since the 2007 season. In that game, the Packers lost the New York Giants, 23-20. It was another sobfest because the Packers probably should have won that one, too.
That was Brett Favre’s final game as a member of the Green Bay Packers. He would join the Vikings two years later and orchestrate another heartbreaking event in the 2009 NFC Championship.