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Professional

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Packers not fazed by being underdog

– The Green Bay Packers don’t much care where they play, who they play or what anyone thinks of their chances to win.

Been there, done that. Any scenario you pick.

“I just think we have a certain confidence in each other,” receiver James Jones said Tuesday. “No matter where we play, no matter who the team is, no matter how many great players they’ve got, we feel like with the team we have, we can compete with anybody. I’m not saying we’re going to go in there, we’re just going to blow people out. But we feel like we can compete with anybody, anywhere. We feel like a type of team built for that.

“Is it going to be easy? Not by any stretch,” he added. “We understand that, but we’ve got confidence in each other.”

The Packers (12-5) travel to San Francisco (11-4-1) on Saturday for an NFC divisional game. The 49ers are early three-point favorites after beating the Packers in Green Bay the first week of the season.

Not that the Packers mind.

While they don’t sit around the locker room reminiscing, the Packers have a quiet self-assurance that comes from knowing what they did two years ago. Needing to win their last two games just to get into the playoffs, the sixth-seeded Packers went on a run that carried them all the way to their 13th NFL title. They played every game on the road, and had to beat each of the NFC’s top three seeds just to reach the Super Bowl.

Much like the 2010 team, the Packers have been hit hard by injuries. More than a dozen starters or projected starters have missed one game or more, including Charles Woodson (nine games), Greg Jennings (eight), Clay Matthews (four) and Jordy Nelson (four). The offensive line is on its fifth combination, and one of the starters, Don Barclay, was an undrafted rookie free agent.

Yet, just as they did in 2010, the Packers have persevered. After beginning the season 2-3, they’ve won nine of 11. Green Bay is now the healthiest it’s been all season, and it’s a much deeper team than it was at the start of the year because those youngsters who were shoved into bigger roles are now savvy veterans.

“That was a team (in 2010) that had its own set of adversity and things we had to get through together and learn together, learn how to win, learn how to win big games,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We kind of went into the playoffs almost playing with house money, if you will, because we had to win our last two and nobody expected us to do a whole lot as a sixth seed. This year, we had to learn again how to win, how to grow as a team, how to deal with adversity. We had to have some young guys step up and play some roles at the beginning of the season that you wouldn’t have expected. …

“We’re in this position, we’re excited about it, we have a tough test in front of us. But anything can happen.”

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