We’re through the NFC Wild Card round, and that means the Divisional Round matchups are set. The Green Bay Packers have waited patiently for their opponent to be decided, and here’s the lineup for next weekend in the second round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers, Saturday, January 16, 4:35 p.m. ET, FOX
The Rams started John Wolford over the injured Jared Goff in the Wild Card round but the rookie suffered an early injury that forced him to be replaced on the second drive of their Wild Card matchup against the Seahawks. Goff was enough to get the job done despite being on the mend from a thumb surgery on his throwing hand but had to depend on a stellar performance from rookie running back Cam Akers — he tallied 131 rushing yards and a score on 28 carries. The Rams’ relentless defensive line anchored by Aaron Donald and lockdown secondary should frighten the Packers ahead of the second round.
The Packers finished the regular season as the top team in the NFC and managed to secure a first-round bye. They were powered by the connection between Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. The duo combined for a league-high 18 touchdown passes despite lacking health at the wide receiver position all year. Not adding pass-catchers hasn’t appeared to be a problem for Green Bay, as Robert Tonyan and others stepped up to fill the void left by injuries. When the passing attack isn’t clicking the Packers can lean on do-it-all running back Aaron Jones. Good luck slowing the highest-scoring team in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday, January 17, 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX
The Buccaneers won an unexpected thriller against the Washington Football Team in the first round of the postseason. They were pushed to the edge by Taylor Heinicke, who was selected to fill in for Alex Smith at the last minute. Tom Brady welcomed a shootout and hurled the pigskin for 381 yards and two scores. He connected on touchdown passes with Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Leonard Fournette unexpectedly led the rushing attack after Ronald Jones suffered a quad injury warming up for the Wild Card Round. Tampa Bay could have a tough time overcoming New Orleans if it's not at full strength. Jones’ status will be very impactful.
The Saints breezed by the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card Round on Sunday by securing a 21-9 victory. They bottled up Mitchell Trubisky, David Montgomery, and Allen Robinson for the most part and all their key players go going on offense. Drew Brews threw for 265 yards and two scores without a pick while Alvin Kamara rushed for 99 yards and a score on 23 carries. Deonte Harris surprisingly led the Saints in receptions and receiving yards but Michael Thomas was also a valuable contributor through the air with five catches for 73 yards and a score. New Orleans is looking like a well-rounded team and will face off against a Tampa Bay team it swept during the regular season.