GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you think the Green Bay Packers need home-field advantage in the playoffs -- and it sounds like Aaron Rodgers thinks perhaps they do -- then games don't come much bigger than Sunday's at the San Francisco 49ers.
No wonder the Packers quarterback didn't even try to downplay it.
"The way I look at it, we've got to beat them once at their place at some point," Rodgers said Wednesday. "It would be nice to do it now."
If Rodgers and the Packers (8-2) can't, then they would fall two games behind the 49ers (9-1) in the NFC playoff standings.
"We're all aware of where we're at in the seeding going into Week 12 and what's in front of us and the opportunities," Rodgers said. "There's still a lot of football to be played and a lot can happen. I think you're just in denial if you don't think about the implications with a 'Dub' or an 'L' this week and how that affects stuff down the line. That's why I said, the way we look at it, we're going to have to win there one time the rest of the year. It would be nice to get it done this week."
According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the winner of this weekend's matchup will have more than a 40% chance to earn the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers' chances would be 45% and the Packers' 44% with a win, according to FPI. A Packers' loss would project them with just a 4% chance for the No. 1 seed, while a 49ers' loss would give them a 10% shot at it.
The Packers have played six games against teams that entered the contest with a winning record this season, and they've won all six. The previous three seasons, the Packers went 5-19-1 against teams with a winning record, including 1-11-1 over the past two seasons.
After Sunday, they have only one more game against a team that currently has a winning record -- the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) in Minneapolis on Dec. 23, which is the middle game of three straight NFC North contests for Green Bay to finish the season.
"We have two games where you guys are going to tell us how we should definitely win the game and they're teams with not great records," Rodgers said, likely referring to consecutive games at the New York Giants (2-8) and at home against the Washington Redskins (1-9) to open December.
"Those are difficult games, as well. Every game's going to be a different mental challenge for us, I think. But it starts with this one this week. We're playing a great football team. It's a football team that's played solid the entire year that's won a variety of different ways. That's our first challenge. It'll be interesting to see the character of this football team hopefully to grow these last six weeks and the focus to remain the same and the attitude to remain the same. That's what we're looking for when you're trying to build something special."
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Packers and 49ers' combined winning percentage of .850 is the best entering any matchup between these two teams in their all-time series.
"They flexed it to Sunday night; I had a feeling that was going to happen before we even got to this week, seeing the way the season was going," Packers veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "So it's going to be exciting. This is what it's all about. This is where I think this team belongs.
"We haven't played well the last two years and finally got things going again. A lot of guys in this locker room have been used to playing these big games, and now we're back in the thick of things. Guys are excited."
And then Bulaga turned his attention toward the big picture in the NFC and asked: "What are there, three or four teams with eight wins in the NFC right now?"
It's actually five, and all of them are in either NFC North, South or West.
"It's tight at the top up there right now," Bulaga said. "I can't really remember a time where it's been like this before. Every game matters. Wins are going to be important."