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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 14: Packers stay alive in NFC North race

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The Packers helped themselves on Sunday, but none of the other results in Week 14 worked out to Green Bay’s benefit.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Post-Crescent-USA TODAY Sports

After Week 14’s action around the NFL, the Green Bay Packers found themselves right where they were before Sunday began. The Packers remain one game back of the final Wild Card spot in the NFC, and they are two back of the Detroit Lions in the race for the NFC North.

The Packers hoped to get some help from a few different sources this week, and for a bit it looked like they would get some. The Chicago Bears showed some signs of life against the Lions and were driving late in the game down just three points; however, two back-to-back holding calls against the Chicago offense scuttled Matt Barkley’s comeback drive and let the Lions hold on for a victory.

In the Wild Card race, Washington got a late touchdown from Chris Thompson as they were able to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-22 and stay at least a half-game ahead of the Packers. Later in the afternoon, the Buccaneers - who held the sixth seed - found a way to win another ugly game, defeating the Saints 16-11 at home.

All of those results meant that the Packers desperately needed a win to maintain any legitimate hope of making the postseason. They delivered with authority, defeating the Seahawks 38-10. That result also knocked Seattle down out of a position for a first-round bye as they slipped behind the Lions in the chase for the second seed.

In all likelihood, the Packers still need to win out and reach 10-6 in order to find their way into the playoffs. If they do so, they will need some help from either the New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys, who each host the Lions in the next two weeks. If the Lions lose one of those two games and the Packers beat the Bears and Vikings, the NFC North title will be on the line in Week 17 at Ford Field; the Packers could pull even with a victory and would hold a head-to-head sweep over the Lions.

Here’s the full NFC picture as of Monday morning. Since this week’s Monday Night Football game features a pair of AFC teams (Baltimore and New England), these standings will not change before the Rams-Seahawks contest that kicks off Week 15 on Thursday Night Footbal.

Division Leaders

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-2), NFC East
2. Detroit Lions (9-4), NFC North
3. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1), NFC West
4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5), NFC South

Wild Cards

5. New York Giants (9-4)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)

Just on the Outside

7. Washington (7-5-1)
8. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
9. Green Bay Packers (7-6)

Not Quite Eliminated Yet

10. Arizona Cardinas (5-7-1)
11. New Orleans Saints (5-8)
12. Carolina Panthers (5-8)
13. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)

Ready to Hit the Golf Course

14. Los Angeles Rams (4-9)
15. Chicago Bears (3-10)
16. San Francisco 49ers (1-12)