The Packers won a nail-biter Sunday afternoon in Lambeau Field over the Bears, qualifying them for the 2010 Playoffs. They grabbed the No. 6 seed and will take on the Eagles next Sunday.
But it’s never too early to look forward to next season.
With the completion of the 2010 NFL regular season also came completed schedules for the 2011 season. Here is a breakdown of how schedules are compiled each season as a refresher:
Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).
· The four teams from another division within the conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
· The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
· Two intra-conference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.
Based on the rotating cycle and second-place finish, The Packers will face the NFC South and AFC West, the New York Giants (second in the NFC East), and the St. Louis Rams (second in the NFC West), along with their NFC North opponents.
No one thought the Packers standed any chance of knocking off the Patriots with Matt Flynn at the helm, but they hung around late into the fourth quarter before failing on a last-minute drive. The loss dropped the Packers to 8-6 and were officially knocked out of the NFC North race about 24 hours later when the Bears knocked off the Vikings to move to 10-4. About four hours before the Packers kicked off, they received some great news when they heard of the Lions knocking off the Buccaneers on the road and the Eagles coming back to beat the Giants.
Let’s take a look at the playoff picture in the NFC and how it’s all shaping up for the Packers. Obviously the loss to the Lions hurts in the ever-so-tight NFC, but the fact that it was a division (and conference) game makes it sting that much worse. The Packers now sit at 8-5 and are at the bottom of what now looks to be a race between threes teams for one spot in the playoffs.
Beginning in the NFC South, the Falcons took care of business over the Panthers to move to an NFC-best 11-2, the Saints got a big win over the Rams to get to 10 wins, and the Buccaneers hung on and used a last-second blunder by the Redskins to improve to 8-5. It’s almost a certainty that two teams will come out of this ultra-competitive division, with the Falcons and Saints fighting for the division spot and the other, most likely the Saints at this point, with a firm grasp on a wildcard spot. The Buccaneers are fighting a few key injuries on defense and did not look impressive, but 8-5 currently has them ahead of the Packers and one Giants loss tomorrow night from being in the playoff picture.