Matt LaFleur has led the Green Bay Packers to the playoffs in his first year as head coach. It is officially official on Sunday evening, thanks to a pair of results in week 15’s Sunday games that locked up a postseason spot for the green and gold.
First, the Packers took care of their own business in the early time slot. A 21-13 victory over the Chicago Bears in the teams’ 200th-ever meeting sent Green Bay to 11-3 and ensured that they would remain in position for the NFC’s second seed for another week. The Packers were hardly perfect, but they largely held the Bears’ running game in check and forced Mitchell Trubisky to a passer rating of just 64.5. That equated to just one touchdown from the Bears’ offense, and the Packers hit on enough big plays offensively and came up with the right stops late to hold on for a hard-fought win.
However, to lock up a postseason berth, Green Bay needed some help from an unfriendly source: the Dallas Cowboys, who hosted the Los Angeles Rams in a late afternoon game. A Rams loss would send the Packers to the playoffs, and Dallas did their part in dominating fashion.
The now 7-7 Cowboys were in control of the game from the jump, pulling away with a massive second-quarter performance. Following a Todd Gurley touchdown reception to tie the score at seven early in the quarter, Dallas ripped off 30 straight points through the middle of the fourth, leading by as much as 37-7. Two garbage-time touchdowns by the Rams were not nearly enough to make the game competitive, as the Cowboys coasted to a 44-21 victory.
Now the Packers are postseason-bound. The question now is when and where they will play their first playoff game in January. Winning on the road in Minnesota next week will lock up the NFC North division, and pairing a win there with a victory in Detroit in week 17 would clinch a first-round bye and the NFC’s second seed at worst.