American Football

Saturday’s slate was perfect for the Packers’ playoff chances

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Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

All of the teams Green Bay wanted to lose did on Christmas Eve.

Going into this week, the shorthand for the Green Bay Packers’ playoff path was fairly simple. They needed one of the two following scenarios to happen:

  • The Packers win out, the Seattle Seahawks lose at least one more game and the Washington Commanders lose at least two more games.
  • The Packers win out, the Seahawks lose at least one more game and the New York Giants lose out.

From there, the possibility of tie-breaker scenarios with the Detroit Lions was possible, but with the Packers’ strength of schedule and a presumed win over the Lions, if tie-breakers did end up mattering, the tie strongly favored Green Bay in that situation. To put it clearly: The Packers couldn’t afford to lose another game but they would still need some marginal help to make the postseason, even if they were able to rally at the end of the season.

Saturday wound up being exactly what Green Bay was asking for. The Giants lost 27-24 to the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks lost 24-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Commanders lost 37-20 to the San Francisco 49ers and as an added bonus the Lions lost 37-23 to the Carolina Panthers. A clean sweep on Christmas Eve.

Washington even benched their starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke mid-game for Carson Wentz, which adds uncertainty to their offensive attack. According to FiveThirtyEight’s playoff predictions, the Packers will make the postseason if they win out and the Commanders drop just one more game. If Washington wins out, Green Bay still needs the Giants to lose out to get in.

Per FiveThirtyEight’s model, the Packers now have an 11 percent chance to make the NFC postseason. That number rises to 28 percent if they win tomorrow in Miami and drops down to one percent with a loss. They still need to take care of business.

The good news, though, is Green Bay almost controls its own destiny. If the Packers win out, FiveThirtyEight gives the team a 90 percent chance to earn the seventh seed, which is nearly double the odds the model gave them coming off of back-to-back losses against the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles in late November.

Green Bay finishes the season with a road game against the Dolphins before back-to-back home divisional games against the Vikings and Lions. Washington will play the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys. It’s still unknown if the Cowboys will rest their starters in Week 18, as it’s uncertain if the NFC East will be open or if Dallas will have locked up the fifth seed in the NFC by then. FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Cowboys a three percent chance to win the division.

The Giants end 2022 with games against the Indianapolis Colts and the Eagles. The Eagles, like the Cowboys, are in the same boat in regard to Week 18. If the Vikings lose (to the Packers) and the Eagles win next week, Philadelphia will lock up the first-round bye before the final week of the season kicks off.

Here’s a short list of things Packers fans should be rooting for next week:

  1. Obviously, Green Bay winning.
  2. The New Orleans Saints beating the Eagles and the Cowboys beating the Tennessee Titans, which makes the NFC East race extend until Week 18. This makes the Eagles and Cowboys motivated to beat the Giants and Commanders, respectively.
  3. The Giants and Commanders losing. A Commanders loss in Week 17 means that the Packers control their own destiny, should they win out.

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