GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – How important is a playoff bye?? All 8 teams the last two years, and 10 of the last 12 teams to receive a first round bye, have won their playoff openers. That is the recent history stacked against the Packers this Sunday in Dallas.
But the bye disadvantage goes even further for the Packers. They had their bye in week 4 this season, before they lost to the Cowboys at Lambeau Field in week 6. 4 days after that loss, the Packers hosted the Bears in a Thursday night game; they took the next five days off. But that was their last break this season, they have played 11 straight weekends since then.
The Cowboys had their bye right after beating the Packers. They then had a long weekend off after playing on Thursday, December 1st. And now they are coming off a first round playoff bye. That makes them by far the more rested and healthy team going into Sunday’s game.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy has had to adjust his teams’ schedule to accommodate this long stretch of games. “The 10-week run in the regular season, coming into your second week of the playoffs, there is a lot of wear and tear. And you have to find that balance to make sure we are ready to go in Dallas,” he said Thursday. “ I feel very good about hitting that target again this week. I think for preference, you’d like to be a healthier team and give your guys a chance to get their bodies back a little bit. But I think we have accomplished that with this new schedule that we have been on .”
Right guard TJ Lang appreciate the coach’s concern. “Coach has done a great job adjusting the schedule for us this year,” the Pro Bowl guard said Thursday. “Wednesdays we come in a little bit later, get a lot more time in the mornings to recover and get the bodies back a little bit; and adjust to practice too. So I think Coach does a great job of making sure that we are fresh as we can be come to game day.”
Here is a look at how healthy both teams are as of today: