A weekly examination of the Packers’ ESPN.com Power Ranking.
Preseason: 5 | Last week: 17 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
If you go by our panel of voters, the Packers apparently shouldn’t be in the playoffs. Twelve teams make the playoffs, six from each conference. In the final regular-season rankings, the Packers didn’t crack the top 12 overall or the top six in the NFC.
Yet here they are at 8-7-1, champs of the NFC North and hosting the 12-4 San Francisco 49ers in a wild-card playoff game on Sunday. You won’t find the Packers complaining about the current playoff format that calls for division winners to play at home in the first round, even if their record is worse than their opponent's. “A division champ should be rewarded,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Who do the voters think deserved a playoff spot more than the Packers? It was the Arizona Cardinals, who finished 10-6 but lost out to the 49ers and New Orleans Saints (11-5) for a wild-card spot. The voters had the Cardinals ninth in the rankings, which also put them ahead of the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles (who were 11th). The 49ers were the highest-ranked wild-card team at No. 4.
As always, you can rank all 32 teams yourself.