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NFC Playoff Picture: Packers still have a road to a first round bye after week 13

Breaking down the Packers road to a first round bye

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

After Week 13, the Green Bay Packers are currently sitting in the 3 seed in the NFC with a 9-3 record. Right now, the Packers have a 93% chance to make the playoffs, a 71% chance to win the NFC North and a a 20% chance to secure a first round bye, according to

The Packers handily beat a 2-9 New York Giants team last Sunday, keeping themselves in the race for a bye. However, the Packers winning out does not guarantee a first round bye.

Thanks to a loss by San Francisco against the Baltimore Ravens, the top two seeds in the NFC each have ten wins, leaving the Packers one game behind a first round bye. The New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks both control their own destines, and would end up the first and second seed respectively. The Saints have already clinched a playoff birth with an NFC South win, while both the Seahawks and the 49ers can clinch a playoff spot this week. Here’s how:

Seattle clinches playoff berth with:​

  • SEA win or tie

San Francisco clinches playoff berth with:

  • SF win + LAR loss or tie OR
  • SF tie + LAR loss

Meanwhile, the Packers are still at least two weeks away from clinching a playoff birth and the NFC North crown. If the Minnesota Vikings lose the next two games and the Packers win both of theirs, they take the North.

The Packers would need the Saints to end up at 13-3 or worse and then the Seahawks and 49ers would have to end up 12-4 for the Packers to secure the top seed. This would be tough, because the Saints and 49ers play each other this coming weekend and the 49ers and the Seahawks play each other again in week 17.

Obtaining the second seed for the Packers should be the aim, because it is very feasible. Thanks to the Seahawks and the 49ers both being in the NFC West, only of them can be a top-4 seed even if they both end up with 13 or more wins. So, the best route for the Packers is to have the Saints lose to the 49ers this Sunday or to the Carolina Panthers in week 17 so they have the NFC wins tiebreaker over them.

If the Saints lose this Sunday and the Packers win, Green Bay would move into second place. Of course, they would have to win out against a 3-9 Washington squad and all 3 teams in the NFC North that they have already beaten to secure this spot.

It’s not perfect, but it is still a great position. If the Packers win out, the lowest seed they can be is #3 and the highest is a first. Either way they will get at least one playoff game at Lambeau Field in January.

Now on to the rest of the NFC.

Thanks to wins by the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, the 6th seed is still up for grabs, but they would need help from the Minnesota Vikings. If the Vikings win out, they could end up as high as the first seed (which would require an epic collapse from the top 4 teams). If the Vikings win two more and the Rams and Bears lose one, the top six seeds in the NFC will be set.

However, if the Vikings lose this week and the Rams win, Minnesota would then fall to 7th place and would need the Rams to lose another game.

For the Bears to make it, they would need to win out, have the Vikings lose three more games, and the Rams to lose two.

The Cowboys just need to win out and they are in, but the Eagles can still make the Playoffs as the NFC East representative if they beat the Cowboys in their upcoming game and end up with the same record.

Surprisingly, the Buccaneers and the Panthers can both still make it. However, it would take a miracle as they both have less than a 1% chance to make it to January. Like Lloyd Christmas said “So you’re telling me there’s a chance”.

If the Buccaneers make the playoffs, they are my Super Bowl favorites with Jameis Winston throwing 5 touchdowns in Miami.

Here are the current NFC standings:

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