After their Week 16 week win, the Green Bay Packers are now the favorites to secure the top seed in the NFC. A win over the Chicago Bears will see the Packers road to Super Bowl LV run straight through Lambeau Field. That being said, do the Packers need the No. 1 seed?
Is the Top Seed Necessary for Green Bay?
The COVID Impact
While this season will lack the home crowd advantage for whoever gets the No. 1 seed, there is one thing COVID-19 can’t control this season, the weather.
Green Bay is infamously cold in the winter, conditions favorable for power backs like A.J. Dillon, as he proved with his breakout performance in Green Bay’s snowy Week 16 win over the Titans. Green Bay is one of only two NFC teams currently guaranteed a playoff spot north of the Mason Dixon line. The Seattle Seahawks are the other. This will play right into Green Bay’s hands should they run into a southern or dome team like the New Orleans Saints, allowing them to use their familiarity with the conditions to run right through them.
The Current Run
From Aaron Rodgers returning to his MVP form to Davante Adams ranking as ProFootballFocus.com‘s number one wide receiver and Aaron Jones yet again eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards. It should come as no surprise that the Packers currently rank first for points per game and third for yards per game.
This would normally see the team labeled as Super Bowl Favorites. However, the Green Bay Packers defense has been average all year, allowing the 16th most points per game, leading to concerns that any game in the playoffs against a team like the New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, or Kansas City Chiefs could turn into a shootout.
Lessons of Time
In recent years, getting a first-round bye has been critical for a team in their Super Bowl ambitions with no team, who played on Wild Card weekend, making the Super Bowl since the fourth seed Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII back in February 2013.
Even with a defeat against Chicago, the Packers would still have two paths to the two-seed, which would have been enough for a first-round bye in previous years. However, the new playoff structure closes this potential out for the Packers forcing the two-seed to compete on Wild Card weekend.
Would Missing the No. 1 Seed be a Disaster?
Gaining the top overall seed would obviously be ideal. But missing out on the top seed wouldn’t be a death sentence to the Packers hopes of a fifth Lombardi Trophy. Despite beating Seattle in the divisional round last year after a first-round bye, Green Bay’s recent form post-bye week has been poor. The Packers haven’t won a game coming off the bye in the regular season since 2016. Combine this with the fact the Packers were one and done when they last held the No. 1 back in 2011, and the historical precedent of the first-round bye may not be the shining light it’s made out to be.
How Key is the Top Seed for the Green Bay Packers?
Historical precedent show areas for both hope and concern for the Packers whether they lock up the top seed or not. As a whole, it would be ideal for the Packers to lock up the No. 1 seed given the byes necessity in a Super Bowl runs in recent years. Still, given that Green Bay isn’t too strong coming off byes and given that the last Super Bowl run for the Packers came from the Wild Card in 2010, it is not the do or die some fans believe.
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