Notebook: The Playoffs Are Near

If Green Bay beats Pittsburgh, a Dallas loss at undefeated New Orleans would clinch a playoff berth. Plus, we have Pro Bowl updates and a few other quick-hit notes from Tuesday.

The Green Bay Packers are officially on the doorstep of the playoffs.

If the Packers (9-4) win on Sunday afternoon, they'll earn an invite to the postseason if the Dallas Cowboys (8-5) lose at the New Orleans Saints (13-0) or the New York Giants (7-6) lost at the Washington Redskins (4-9) on Monday.

Two wild-card teams from each conference make the playoffs. The Packers are atop the NFC wild-card chase, making them the fifth seed at the moment. That would mean a playoff game at the No. 4 seed, which at this point is Arizona. If that scenario comes to fruition, the Packers would play the Cardinals in back-to-back games.

Pro Bowl voting

The Packers don't have anyone among the leading vote-getters in the fan vote for the Pro Bowl. The fans, coaches and players each count for one-third of the total vote.

Charles Woodson ranks second among cornerbacks, just a few thousand votes behind Philadelphia's Asante Samuel. A.J. Hawk ranks third among inside linebackers. Aaron Rodgers is a distant third among quarterbacks behind Drew Brees and Brett Favre. Brees has 1,120,535 votes — less than 400 votes more than Favre.

Atari Bigby ranks fourth among strong safeties, Nick Collins ranks fourth among free safeties, John Kuhn ranks fourth among fullbacks and Desmond Bishop ranks fourth among special-teamers. Clay Matthews ranks fifth at outside linebacker and Mason Crosby is fifth at kicker.

Voting continues until Dec. 21 at NFL.com. The Pro Bowl teams will be announced on Dec. 29.

Four-point stance

— The Packers promoted receiver Patrick Williams from the practice squad to replace Biren Ealy. Williams, an undrafted free agent from Colorado, spent the offseason with the Packers, was released with an injury settlement in training camp due to a hamstring injury, and was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 27.

Ryan Grant, with 137 yards and two touchdowns vs. Chicago, is one of three nominees for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week. Voting continues until noon Friday by clicking here.

— Grant was selected to the USA Football/NFLPA All-Fundamentals Team as the running back because of his "ball security/proper cuts." Grant hasn't fumbled on a running play this season.

— All-Pro Steelers safety Troy Polamalu won't play this week but says he wants to play in the regular-season finale. He's missed the last five games with a strained left knee, and Pittsburgh has lost all of them.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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