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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 13: Packers stay within striking distance of Cardinals for 1-seed

A big win over the Rams kept the Packers just a half-game back of the top spot in the NFC.

Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings eight days ago dealt a significant blow to their hopes for home-field advantage in the 2021 playoffs, but they bounced back on Sunday. By beating the Los Angeles Rams 36-28, the Packers moved to within a half-game of the idle Arizona Cardinals for the top spot in the NFC with six weeks remaining in the regular season.

Green Bay can now head into its bye week knowing that they will be no more than one game back of the one-seed when they return to the field in two weeks against the Chicago Bears. Those Bears will have a chance to help define the NFC’s playoff picture over the next two weeks, however, as they will travel to play the Cardinals in week 13 before returning to the Midwest to visit the Packers the following Sunday.

However, charging hard behind the Cardinals and Packers are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday improved their record to 8-3. Tampa will likely need to vault a full game ahead of the Packers in order to secure a better seed than Matt LaFleur’s team, however, due to the conference record tiebreaker; all three of the Buccaneers’ losses are in the NFC, while the Packers have only two losses within the conference.

Thus, during the bye, Packers fans will want to cheer for the Bears — yes, the Bears — and the Atlanta Falcons to pull upset victories.

Looking ahead, two major simulation sites have different views of the Packers’ quality of play and therefore their chances at earning the top seed. 538 has the Packers and Cardinals as practically co-favorites for home-field advantage, with their odds being 40% and 39%, respectively and the Buccaneers sitting back at 17%. Football Outsiders, however, takes a much more bullish view of the Bucs due to their DVOA performance and DAVE metric, which they use for future projection; FO has these three teams all within a percent of each other, between 31.1% and 31.8%.

Here are the current playoff standings, with each team’s record and week 13 matchup listed.

Current Playoff Teams

  1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2, NFC West leaders; Week 13 game vs. Chicago)
  2. Green Bay Packers (9-3, NFC North leaders; BYE)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3, NFC South leaders; @ Atlanta)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (7-4, NFC East leaders; @ New Orleans)
  5. Los Angeles Rams (7-4, Wild Card; vs. Jacksonville)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (6-5, Wild Card; @ Seattle)
  7. Washington Football Team (5-6, Wild Card; @ Las Vegas)


8. Minnesota Vikings (5-6, @ Detroit)
T-9. Atlanta Falcons (5-6; vs. Tampa Bay)
T-9. New Orleans Saints (5-6; vs. Dallas)
T-11. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7; @ New York Jets)
T-11. Carolina Panthers (5-7; BYE)
T-13. New York Giants (4-7; @ Miami)
T-13. Chicago Bears (4-7; vs. Arizona)
15. Seattle Seahawks (3-8, vs. San Francisco)
16. Detroit Lions (0-10-1; vs. Minnesota)

This post has been updated to reflect the results of the Monday Night Football game between Washington and Seattle. Washington won 17-15.