For coach Mike McCarthy, the formula has been to go 8-0 at home and split the games on the road. That means a 12-4 record and, most likely, a division title and home playoff game.
That’s exactly how it played out in 2014. The Packers ran the table at Lambeau Field and went 4-4 away from home. That added up to a 12-4 record, a fourth consecutive NFC North championship, a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round.
What it did not give the Packers was home-field advantage in the NFC Championship Game. That went to the Seahawks, who also went 12-4 but had the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Packers to earn the No. 1 seed.
The Packers, of course, lost to the Seahawks in overtime.
“It’s tough to lose in the playoffs, tough to lose the way that we’ve lost,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in the final edition of his radio show on ESPN Milwaukee on Thursday. “It will be a refocused group. Different obstacles, different challenges, a different set of opponents in 10 of our games. We’ll have to find a way to put it together, but I think we can build on some things we did this year.”
It’s impossible to say but, considering the Packers’ dominance at home, it’s likely they would have advanced to the Super Bowl had they hosted Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. Green Bay scored 318 points in eight regular-season home games, the third-most in NFL history, and led the league with a plus-155 scoring differential. They went 4-0 at home against teams that reached the playoffs, beating Carolina by 21, eventual Super Bowl champion New England by five, Detroit by 10 behind a gimpy Rodgers and Dallas — a perfect 8-0 on the road — by five in the playoffs.
“The home-field advantage that we established was incredible,” Rodgers said. “The crowd, the way that the crowd contributed to our performances at home, was amazing. We’ve got to keep that up and continue to improve on that. We’ve got to find a way to get back some of the mojo we had earlier, a few years ago, when we were winning more than half of our games on the road. When you look back at this year, (if) we go 5-3 on the road, then we have the No. 1 seed and we’re playing everything at home in the playoffs, which teams realized this year is a tough place to play. That’s going to be the goal. I think in years past, you talk a lot about winning your division. I think after this season, we can stack on as a goal being a No. 1 seed because we know how much it means to have that home field advantage.”
Of course, the Packers won three consecutive road playoff games en route to winning the Super Bowl in 2010. For several seasons, the Packers almost seemed better equipped to take their show on the road. Not so this year, though, as the Packers generally crushed their opponents at home behind Rodgers’ league-record 133.2 passer rating.
“That was a different team. The 2010 team was a different team than the 2014 team,” Rodgers said. “We were a lot more mature team and our offense was a lot different. We were able to do a lot more on offense in 2014. When you can play at home, you can do obviously a considerable amount more than when you’re playing on the road. As we move forward, continue to do the things that we do on offense. Playing at home is a decided advantage for us, I think.”email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.