The Green Bay Packers still need a bit of help to make the playoffs this season, as they sit a game back of the NFC Wild Card race and two games back in their division. The Packers currently sit in 9th place overall in the NFC, and in the NFC North they are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for second place, behind the Detroit Lions.
The current NFC Wild Card teams are the New York Giants at 9-4 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8-5. Also ahead of the Packers in the wild-card race is Washington - a half-game back of Tampa at 7-5-1.
For now, here are the seedings in order in the NFC:
Division Leaders: 1. Cowboys (11-2), 2. Seahawks (9-4-1), 3. Lions (9-4), 4. Falcons (8-5)
Wild Cards: 5. Giants (9-4), 6. Buccaneers (8-5)
Next three out: Washington (7-5-1), Vikings (7-6), Packers (7-6)
Here are the games that will affect playoff seeding in the NFC and how Packers fans should be rooting this week.
Lions at Giants
This one’s easy - cheer for the Giants, since the Packers need Detroit to lose at least one of their next two games to set up a winner-take-all matchup in Week 17 at Ford Field. The Packers are two games back of New York too, and a Giants win would ensure that the Packers can’t catch them, but the divisional help is far more important at this stage.
Buccaneers at Cowboys
I know you’ll feel dirty, but cheer for the Cowboys in this one. Dallas has already locked up a playoff spot and they will clinch the NFC East with a win here. The Packers’ can’t track them down anyway - they’re four games back of Dallas. Hope for a Tampa loss to pull them even with Green Bay. I’ll discuss a potential tiebreaker between the Packers and Bucs shortly.
Panthers at Washington
A Carolina win in this game would give the Packers the opportunity to go a half-game ahead of Washington if Green Bay beats the Bears on Sunday, a necessary item for the Packers to climb back into Wild Card position.
Colts at Vikings
The Packers can jump ahead of Minnesota with a home win next week regardless of this result, but always cheer for the Vikings to lose when playoff implications are on the line, especially when they’re playing an AFC team.
49ers at Falcons
This one is a little forward-thinking, but it’s worth a quick mention anyway. If the Packers can catch the Lions for the division lead, they might be able to sneak into the 3rd seed rather than the 4th if they can pull a game up on Atlanta (who holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Green Bay). Furthermore, the Falcons and Bucs are tied for the division lead right now and the Packers would rather see the Buccaneers win the NFC South; if the Cowboys beat Tampa this week, Green Bay should then have the tiebreaker advantage over the Bucs if the Packers win out.
This is because a Cowboys win over the Buccaneers and a Packers win over the Bears would leave the two teams with equal 3-2 records against common opponents and matching 6-4 records in NFC games. With only conference games remaining and neither against shared opponents, that means that if the two teams end up tying, the tiebreaker would go to strength of victory. At present, the Packers’ SOV is .484 compared to the Buccaneers’ .443.
Ultumately, go Niners in this one, even though that’s probably a lost cause.