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October

The Contenders: Reviewing the Packers Competition for the Top Seed in the NFC

Could Alex Smith meet Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship game?

The Green Bay Packers haven’t hosted a playoff game at Lambeau Field since losing to the Giants in the NFC Championship on Jan. 20, 2008. After a 7-0 start, the Packers have some people whispering about going undefeated.

Barring injury, the Packers are more talented than any of their remaining opponents. But can they go undefeated? That’s a tall task.

The Packers toughest tests will come after the bye when they travel to San Diego, on Thanksgiving against the Lions, at the Giants and at home against the Bears and Lions.

Lets say the Packers end up 13-3. Would that be good enough for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and homefield throughout the playoffs? I think so. The Saints could give the Packers a run, but Green Bay already has the tiebreaker advantage. San Franscisco and Detroit are still…well, San Francico and Detroit. Both are improved, but not at the Packers’ level. The Giants only have two losses, but they face a brutal schedule down the stretch.

Packers fans should plan on skipping their January house payment. There’s a good chance that money would be better spent on NFC Championship game tickets at Lambeau.

49ers
Record: 5-1
Projected finish: 12-4
Even if you don’t think the 49ers are for real, they still could end up 12-4. I guess it depends how you define for real. If for real means beating the mediocre and bad teams on your schedule, the 49ers are for real. If it means rising up and winning a game or two that you’re not supposed to, I’m not sure the 49ers qualify.

Assuming the 49ers just beat the teams they’re supposed to, they’ll get wins over Cleveland, Washington, Arizona (2), St. Louis (2), and Seattle. According to my Morrison County math, that’s 12-4.

Could the 49ers get the No. 2 seed in the NFC? The Aaron Rodgers-Alex Smith-Mike McCarthy storyline would make for an intriguing NFC championship.

Saints
Record: 5-2
Projected finish: 12-4
How tough is the rest of the Saints schedule? Depends what you think of Atlanta. The Saints play them twice. How about Detroit and Tampa Bay? The Saints play both at home. Will Tennessee be any good by week 14? The Saints play the Titans on the road. The Saints also travel to St. Louis and Minnesota, host the Giants and finish with Carolina at home.