It stays to be seen how a lot home-field benefit issues within the first yr of the 14-team NFL playoff format.
For the Packers, nonetheless, it means slightly extra. For Aaron Rodgers, it might be the distinction in making a Tremendous Bowl look for the reason that 31-25 victory towards Pittsburgh in Tremendous Bowl XLV.
Rodgers clinched nearly every little thing else within the Packers’ 35-16 victory towards the Bears at Soldier Area in Week 17. Inexperienced Bay is the top seed and would be the lone NFC workforce with a bye week. Rodgers, who accomplished 70.7 p.c of his passes with 4,299 yards, 48 TDs and 5 interceptions in 2020, made a robust ultimate case for his third NFL MVP award.
However it’s that likelihood for a second Tremendous Bowl look that has eluded Rodgers for the final 10 seasons. Rodgers is 75-18-1 as a starter within the common season and 5-2 within the playoffs at Lambeau Area.
Put the 2 collectively, and Rodgers win there slightly greater than 80 p.c of the time.
A kind of losses got here the final time the Packers had the No. 1 seed within the NFC. Inexperienced Bay was the defending Tremendous Bowl champion and went 15-1 within the common season earlier than the Giants pulled off a 37-20 shocker within the 2012 NFC divisional spherical. That’s the worst-case situation for the Packers now.
Rodgers had three pictures within the NFC championship since, however these losses at Seattle (2015), Atlanta (2017) and San Francisco (2020) have been on the highway. Rodgers’ solely NFC championship victory towards Chicago (2011) additionally was on the highway.
Would it not be completely different if the Packers may get to that spot at dwelling? In spite of everything, the Packers misplaced to the Giants in 2008 within the NFC championship in Brett Favre’s final sport because the franchise’s quarterback. Inexperienced Bay wasn’t the No. 1 seed in these playoffs.
That home-field benefit is a part of the Packers’ historical past. Inexperienced Bay used the Frozen Tundra to win NFL championships in 1939, 1961 and 1965. The famed Ice Bowl NFL championship victory towards Dallas in 1967 preceded a Tremendous Bowl II victory towards the Raiders. That success was the hallmark of the Vince Lombardi period.
Favre’s lone Tremendous Bowl championship got here after the Packers clinched the No. 1 seed in 1996. Inexperienced Bay beat Carolina 30-13 within the NFC championship. For what’s it value, that was a part of a 13-3 season, too. The Packers have waited to clinch a Tremendous Bowl berth at dwelling ever since, and the brand new playoff format gives that distinctive alternative in 2020-21.
Quick ahead to the current day, and the highway to the Tremendous Bowl runs by way of Lambeau Area once more.
That is a big benefit for Rodgers, who has thrived there with second-year coach Matt LaFleur. The Packers are 14-2 at dwelling within the common season and 1-0 within the playoffs with that player-coach mixture.
Put these numbers collectively, and Rodgers wins 88.2 p.c of the time.
Rodgers is finishing 66.7 p.c of his passes with 39 TDs and 4 interceptions in that stretch. That features final yr’s NFC 28-23 divisional spherical victory towards Seattle, during which Rodgers had 243 yards and two TDs.
It made a distinction that Seattle needed to come to Inexperienced Bay and might be the identical case once more. It may make the distinction towards Tampa Bay, New Orleans or whoever else involves Lambeau Area.
The Packers can afford to “chill out” and watch what might be the wildest wild-card weekend so far.
Then we are going to discover out precisely how a lot that home-field benefit issues.