Make no mistake: the Green Bay Packers do not look like a team that should earn home-field advantage in the postseason. The team ranks 13th in points scored and 10th in points allowed — respectable numbers, but not elite by any stretch. Their expected win-loss record based on points is 8.3 wins against 5.7 losses, a far cry from the 11-3 record that they currently hold.
And yet, the Packers have in front of them a realistic opportunity to ensure that the road to the playoffs comes through Green Bay.
That road remained alive for at least one more day thanks to the Arizona Cardinals, who defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday 27-13. Coincidentally, former Packers quarterback Brett Hundley was one reason for that result, as he came on late in relief of an injured Kyler Murray and led a long scoring drive to put the game away.
Coming into this week, the Packers needed a few things to happen to achieve an elusive #1 seed. First, they need to beat the Vikings in Minnesota on Monday night and the Lions in Detroit next week. Second, they needed both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks to lose one game apiece in the final two weeks. But with the 49ers’ win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, that seemed unlikely, given that the two teams play each other in week 17.
Instead, the Cardinals pulled a major upset in Seattle, providing the Packers with a clear pathway to home-field. Now the Packers need one bit of help beyond winning their own two remaining games: a Seattle victory next week over the 49ers in a game that will be played in Seattle.
The Seahawks will be banged-up heading into that game. They did not have the services of several key players on Sunday, including Jadeveon Clowney, Quandre Diggs, Shaquill Griffin, and Duane Brown. They surely will need several of those names to have a solid chance to beat San Francisco next week. But weird things happen in Seattle, and the 49ers are hardly unbeatable; after all, they lost at home to the Atlanta Falcons just two Sundays ago, just a week after posting a thrilling 48-46 win over the New Orleans Saints.
For Green Bay, a playoff bye is in their own control. Win out and they get to sit comfortably at home on Wild Card weekend. But if they do that and get a little help from Seattle, they will guarantee that any postseason game they play before the Super Bowl will come at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.