PHILADELPHIA – The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles have traded places in the past two weeks.
Michael Vick and the Eagles were the talk of the NFL after an incredible comeback win over the New York Giants on Dec. 19. They were sitting at 10-4 with a chance to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs, and had the second-best odds for winning the Super Bowl at 6-1, according to Bodog.com.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were on the brink of elimination after a 31-27 loss to New England. They were a disappointing 8-6 going into a do-or-die game against the Giants.
Hit the fast-forward button. Now the Packers are the hot team entering the playoffs.
The Eagles (10-6) and Packers (10-6) will meet today at Lincoln Financial Field in the final wild-card game of the weekend.
Call it the cheesesteaks vs. the cheeseheads.
“It’s a playoff game, man. It’s huge for us,” Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. “We know what’s out there on the line for us, and this has kind of been our goal all season, to make it through the regular season and put us in the best position to get to the playoffs. Now we’re finally here, so we just got to put it together and make some things happen.”
The Eagles blew their chance at a bye with a loss to lowly Minnesota on Dec. 28, then rested nearly all their starters in a meaningless loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week.
The Packers routed the Giants to stay alive in the playoff race. Then they beat NFC North champion Chicago in their second straight must-win game to earn a playoff berth as the No. 6 seed.
Green Bay has a tough challenge ahead. The Packers have to win three games on the road to reach the Super Bowl. But they’re no ordinary sixth seed, and it’s been done before. The Pittsburgh Steelers won the 2006 Super Bowl as a No. 6 seed. The Eagles reached the 2009 NFC championship game as the sixth seed.
Oddsmakers list the Eagles as 21/2-point favorites because they have the home-field advantage. But the Packers are the consensus pick by many analysts and experts.
“They’re the hot team right now, so a lot of people are going to pick them,” Eagles center Mike McGlynn said. “It’s obviously motivation, but it doesn’t matter.”
Despite their seeding, the Packers have 12-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl.
The Packers, a popular preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, were set back by a slew of injuries. They lost six starters, including running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley.
This will be a rematch of Green Bay’s 27-20 victory at the Linc in Week 1. In that game, Kevin Kolb was Philadelphia’s starter. But Clay Matthews knocked him out with a concussion, giving Vick a chance to show his stuff.