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Packers control playoff home-field opportunity after 49ers & Saints losses

Green Bay can now earn the NFC’s top seed by winning out without any help.

NFL: NOV 10 Panthers at Packers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 10 was a good one for the Green Bay Packers. Thanks to a losses by the teams ahead of them in the NFC playoff picture, the Packers now have an opportunity to claim home-field advantage in the playoffs right in front of them.

On Sunday afternoon, the Packers got a gift in the form of a flat performance by the New Orleans Saints. They lost at home 26-9 to the Atlanta Falcons, a divisional rival but a team that came into the game with a 1-7 record. The Falcons were in Drew Brees’ face all game, hitting him 11 times and bringing him down six times for sacks. Atlanta also bottled up the Saints’ run game, holding them to just 52 yards on 11 carries in the game. That game dropped the Saints to 7-2, with both losses coming to NFC teams.

The Packers took care of business against the Panthers later on Sunday afternoon, with their 24-16 victory pushing them up to 8-2. But the weekend became tremendous for the green and gold late on Monday night.

The Seattle Seahawks went into San Francisco trying to knock off the NFL’s last unbeaten team, and they had plenty of chances to win the game in regulation. Multiple dropped interceptions kept the 49ers alive late, and their rookie kicker, Chase McLaughlin, drilled a 47-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

However, McLaughlin would miss a game-winning field goal attempt in the extra period, following an inexplicable Russell Wilson interception. After the two teams traded punts late in the game, Wilson scrambled to put Seattle in field goal range, and Jason Myers’ 42-yarder sent the 49ers home as losers for the first time this season.

By virtue of these two results, the Packers now have a clear road to earning the top seed in the NFC playoffs in front of them. San Francisco now sits at 8-1, but they host the Packers in two weeks. A Green Bay victory in that game would give the 49ers their second loss and would hand the Packers the head-to-head tiebreaker. Meanwhile, the Packers hold a half-game lead on the Saints, but they will also keep the tiebreaker over New Orleans if both teams would win out. The two teams do not play each other in the regular season and neither has lost to a common opponent, so the tiebreaker would come down to conference record. Since Packers have lost only one game to an NFC team compared to two losses for the Saints, Green Bay would hold that tiebreaker as well.

It’s the perfect position to be in with six games remaining in the season. Win your last six and you earn home-field advantage at Lambeau throughout January. Now the Packers just need to go out and do it.

Here are the current playoff standings across the NFC.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (7-1, NFC West leader)
  2. Green Bay Packers (8-2, NFC North leader)
  3. New Orleans Saints (7-2, NFC South leader)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4, NFC East leader)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-2, Wild Card)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (7-3, Wild Card)
  7. Los Angeles Rams (5-4)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
  9. Carolina Panthers (5-4)
  10. Chicago Bears (4-5)
  11. Detroit Lions (3-5-1)
  12. Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1)
  13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6)
  14. Atlanta Falcons (2-7)
  15. New York Giants (2-8)
  16. Washington (1-8)