For all intents and purposes, the Green Bay Packers needed a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday to keep their minuscule playoff hopes alive. They could have remained alive with a loss, had a few specific results gone their way, but the road to the postseason would have been extremely difficult.
However, the Packers lost in Chicago 24-17, seeing a tie game slip away early in the fourth quarter and a comeback attempt end with a deflected interception in the end zone. Combined with the Minnesota Vikings’ 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, the Packers officially have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Green Bay fell to 5-8-1 on the season with the loss, which allowed the Bears to clinch the NFC North title. Chicago appears headed for the third seed in the NFC, as the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Indianapolis Colts 23-0. Meanwhile, Minnesota took a solid step towards the sixth seed, improving to 7-6-1 with two games to play.
As for the Packers, they will face questions about whether or not to allow certain key players to suit up in the final two games of the season. Aaron Rodgers has not suited up in a football game when the team has been officially eliminated from the playoffs since his first year as a starter in 2008, and he has fought through a knee injury all year. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has been banged up with multiple injuries all season as well and may be a candidate to be shut down as well.
This also marks the first time that the Packers have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2005 and 2006 and just the third time that has happened to the franchise since 1993. They also missed the postseason in back-to-back years in 1999 and 2000.