Admit it: you lost all hope of earning the NFC's top seed and, thereby, home-field advantage in the playoffs a week ago when the Green Bay Packers lost to the Buffalo Bills.
Well maybe it's time to start hoping once again.
As it turns out, the Packers need less help than we once believed in order to earn home field in week 17. Thanks to last night's victory by the Seattle Seahawks over the Arizona Cardinals, only two things need to happen to give the packers the top seed in the NFC.
1. Defeat the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field
2. Have the St. Louis Rams beat (or tie) the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle
Not too much to ask, right?
Of course, both of those will be tall tasks. The Packers are playing arguably the best Lions team in the past 20 years in week 17, and one whose defense shut the Packers down to their season-low in points (7) back in their week three win at Ford Field. Then again, that Packers offense was not the efficient machine it has been at home this season, where the team has racked up 41 points and 425 yards per game.
As for part two, the Rams will have a major challenge this week in Seattle. The Seahawks' defense is averaging just 6.6 points allowed per game over their last five contests, and they rolled up 35 points and almost 600 yards of total offense last night in Arizona against the Cardinals. Still, the Rams beat the Seahawks in their first meeting this year, a 28-26 win in St. Louis, thanks to some trickery on special teams and an efficient performance by quarterback Austin Davis.
In case you're wondering why the Cardinals, who currently sit at 11-4 and tied on record with the Packers and Seahawks, don't enter into the equation for home field, we'll explain it here.
Seattle owns the tiebreaker over both Green Bay and Arizona, having beaten Green Bay in week one and swept the Cardinals in their two 2014 meetings. But Arizona and Green Bay can finish tied - if both teams win and the Seahawks lose, the Cards win the NFC West and both teams would sit at 12-4. However, since both teams would own equivalent 9-3 records in the NFC, the next tiebreaker would be record in common opponent games.
Arizona and Green Bay shared four common opponents this season: the Lions, Seahawks, Eagles, and Falcons. Green Bay currently has a 2-2 record (losses to Seattle and Detroit), while the Cardinals are 2-3 (with losses to Seattle, Atlanta, and Seattle again). With a win over the Lions on Sunday, the Packers' common opponent record would move to 3-2, and they would win the tiebreaker against Arizona.
However, if both teams lose this week and end up as the two Wild Card teams, Arizona would be the 5th seed and Green Bay would be 6th. This is because both would have matching 2-3 records against their common opponents, and the next tiebreaker (strength of victory) belongs to the Cardinals.
Got it? Let's recap.
Scenario one: Packers win, Seahawks lose (or tie)
Green Bay is the top seed in the NFC. If the Cardinals win in this scenario, they are the 2nd seed and the NFC West champs; if not, Seattle earns the division crown and the bye.
Scenario two: Packers win, Seahawks win
Seattle earns home-field advantage, while the Packers get the #2 seed.
Scenario three: Packers lose
No matter what else happens, Green Bay will be the sixth seed in the NFC if they lose on Sunday. If Seattle and Arizona also lose, Detroit would then earn home-field.
To boil it all down, go Rams, and GO PACK GO!