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Pack focused on simple playoff path: beating Bears

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Associated Press
December 27, 2010
— After a blowout victory over the New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers' simplest path to the playoffs is clear: beat the rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sunday and they're in.

The Packers (9-6) also could make the playoffs if they lose to the Bears and other circumstances fall in their favor, but coach Mike McCarthy certainly doesn't want his players thinking that way.


"It's the same talk I give to my football team: We need to get to 10 wins, and until we get to 10 wins nothing else matters," McCarthy said Monday. "That's where we stand. We're focused on win No. 10 against the Chicago Bears. Scenarios, I couldn't even tell you what they are."


Some players seem to be very aware of playoff scenarios that might affect the team.


After his standout performance against the Giants on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers said he wouldn't mind seeing Minnesota beat Philadelphia on Tuesday night to give Chicago the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC and, presumably, give the Bears less incentive to go all-out at Lambeau on Sunday.


"They might rest some of those studs they've got on defense," Rodgers said.


Rodgers and the rest of the Packers certainly would prefer to win their way in, but there is a path to the playoffs even if they lose their season finale. The Giants would have to lose to Washington and Tampa Bay would have to lose to New Orleans. In that scenario, New York, Tampa Bay and Green Bay all would finish 9-7 and the Packers would hold the tiebreaker.


And there's another playoff positioning quirk for the Packers to consider: Depending on how the playoff seeding process shakes out, Green Bay could play Chicago in the first round of the playoffs after facing them in the final game of the regular season.


It's a somewhat similar to last season, when the Packers beat Arizona in the regular season finale and lost to them in the playoffs the following week except the Packers haven't clinched anything yet, so McCarthy can't hold anything back. And McCarthy says his playbook is big enough to play a team back-to-back without becoming predictable.


"It is a totally different situation," he said. "We could play doubleheaders any week based on how much scheme we take into a game. If we need to play Chicago, we could just fly right now to Chicago and play them Sunday night too, if we had to. We're not holding anything back."


None of the playoff scenarios currently open to the Packers would have been possible without a victory over the Giants on Sunday. New York would have clinched a playoff spot with a win, and a loss would have eliminated the Packers.


"I knew the type of guys we have in this room," defensive tackle B.J. Raji said Sunday night. "We don't back down, we don't fold. We had some rough spots this season, but we knew winning this game would bring us one step closer to where we want to be."


And the way the Packers beat the Giants, after crushing back-to-back close losses at Detroit and New England, gives them confidence going into the Chicago game.


"We feel great," cornerback Tramon Williams said Sunday. "Obviously we had to get this one. If we didn't get this one, it was over. For us to put together a performance like that, I think guys are really confident, knowing we can still make this run. Our goal is still ahead of us, and that goal is to win the Super Bowl. And that's still ahead of us."


If the Packers make the playoffs, Desmond Bishop thinks they might be in for the long run.


"I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but if we can put together four quarters we can do that to pretty much everybody," the linebacker said Sunday. "And that's just the kind of talent and the kind of will that we have on this team offense, defense and special teams. If we can put four (quarters) together like that, we're dangerous."



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