Thursday, January 28

Home field gives the Packers and Aaron Rodgers a super lead in the 2021 NFL playoffs

It remains to be seen how much home-field advantage matters in the first year of the 14-team NFL playoff format.

For Packers, however, it usually means a little more. For Aaron Rodgers, it could be the difference in making a Super Bowl appearance for the first time in 10 seasons.

Rodgers secured almost everything else in the Packers’ 35-16 win over the Bears at Soldier Field in Week 17. Green Bay is the top seed and will be the only NFC team with a bye week. Rodgers, who completed 70.7 percent of his passes with 4,299 yards, 48 ​​TDs and five interceptions this season, made a strong final case for his third NFL Most Valuable Player award.

But it’s that opportunity for a second Super Bowl appearance that has eluded Rodgers for the past 10 seasons. It will be that advantage at Lambeau Field, where he is 75-18-1 as a starter in the regular season and 5-2 in the postseason.

Put the two together and Rodgers wins there a little over 80 percent of the time.

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One of those losses came the last time the Packers had the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Green Bay was the defending Super Bowl champion and went 15-1 in the regular season before the Giants pulled off a 37-20 upset in the 2012 NFC divisional round. That’s the worst case for the Packers now.

Rodgers had three shots in the NFC championship since then, but those losses in Seattle (2015), Atlanta (2017) and San Francisco (2020) were on the road. Rodgers’ only victory in the NFC championship against Chicago (2011) was also on the road.

Would it be different if the Packers could get there at home? After all, the Packers lost to the Giants in 2008 in the NFC championship in Brett Favre’s last game as a franchise quarterback.

The positive story is part of the ancient Packers history. Green Bay used the Frozen Tundra to win NFL championships in 1939, 1961 and 1965. The famous Ice Bowl NFL championship victory in 1967 preceded Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl II against the Raiders. That home advantage was the hallmark of the Vince Lombardi era.

Favre’s only Super Bowl championship came after the Packers secured the No. 1 seed in 1996. Green Bay beat Carolina 30-13 in the NFC championship. The Packers have waited to secure a Super Bowl spot at home ever since, and the new playoff format offers that unique opportunity in 2020-21.

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Fast forward to today, and the road to the Super Bowl goes through Lambeau Field again.

That’s a huge advantage for Rodgers, who has thrived there with second-year coach Matt LaFleur. The Packers are 14-2 at home in the regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs with that combination.

Put those numbers together and Rodgers wins 88.2 percent of the time.

Rodgers is completing 66.7 percent of his passes with 39 TDs and four interceptions. That includes last year’s NFC 28-23 divisional round win over Seattle, in which Rodgers added 243 yards and two TDs.

It made a difference that Seattle had to come to Green Bay and it could be the same case again. It could make a difference against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, or anyone else coming out of super wild card weekend.

The Packers can afford to “kick back” and see what might be the wildest wild card weekend to d Then

Then we’ll find out exactly how much that home advantage matters.

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