The Green Bay Packers have some serious work to do in the last six games of the year if they want a shot at a playoff spot. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has said that he believes his team can “run the table,” and they would probably have to do so: it’s difficult to imagine Green Bay sneaking into the postseason unless they win their final six games, which would put them at 10-6.
As of now, they sit at 4-6. Thanks to the Lions’ victory over the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day, the Packers are three games back in the win column from Detroit. They can make up a half-game tonight with a win over the 5-5 Eagles, but a loss puts them three full games back of Detroit with just five to play. The one plus is that the Packers play the Lions in week 17 and already have a win against Detroit; however, with Green Bay’s odds of making the playoffs calculated at just 7% by FiveThirtyEight and 8.8% by Football Outsiders, it is clear that a loss at any point all but eliminates them entirely.
Similarly, this chart from FiveThirtyEight shows that the results of this game will likely either double or halve the Packers’ playoff chances. (Up from 7% to 13% with a win, or down to 3% with a loss).
Philly, meanwhile, is trying to stay alive in the race for one of the conference’s Wild Card spots. The Eagles are currently in the ninth spot in the conference, but a win would leave them just a half-game behind Washington for the sixth and final playoff spot.
At this point, three divisions appear to be locked up - the East, West, and South. The North could still flip, if the Vikings go on a run and the Lions collapse. However, Detroit now holds the tiebreaker for good, having swept Minnesota in both games this year.
Tonight’s game will obviously shake these rankings up a bit, and will determine whether the Packers still have any hope at all of clawing their way back into the picture by season’s end.
1. NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (10-1)
2. NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
3. NFC North: Detroit Lions (7-4)
4. NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
5. New York Giants (8-3)
6. Washington (6-4-1)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)
8. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
10. New Orleans Saints (5-6)
11. Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)
12. Green Bay Packers (4-6)
13. Carolina Panthers (4-7)
14. Los Angeles Rams (4-7)
Left for Dead
15. Chicago Bears (2-9)
16. San Francisco 49ers (1-10)