The Green Bay Packers currently sit with a 4-7 record going into Week 12 of the 2022 regular season. They aren’t officially out of the playoff race yet, but it’s not looking good. Technically, though, there is still something for the Packers to play for this year. As it stands today, the team has a six percent chance to make the postseason (FiveThirtyEight), despite Green Bay’s disappointing start.
Obviously, the Packers have to take care of their own business on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, but who else should Green Bay fans be rooting for this weekend? Surely, the other games across the NFC should have an impact on the Packers’ playoff chances, right?
Luckily, FiveThirtyEight’s playoff model can tell us exactly how many percentage points a single game, in isolation, can impact those odds. For example, the upcoming Eagles-Packers matchup is a game that carries a 13 percent leverage on Green Bay’s playoff projection. If the Packers win, they should have a 16 percent chance to make the postseason. If they lose, they should have a 3 percent chance to go on a run to the playoffs. Subtracting those numbers is how we get that 13 percent difference, which is the leverage of the game.
Let’s take a look at the other games in the NFC this week. The games below are split into tiers based on their impact on the Packers’ playoff odds, per FiveThirtyEight, and the team in brackets is the one that would assist Green Bay’s postseason hopes the most by winning.
2 Percent Leverage Games
- [Falcons] @ Commanders
- [Raiders] @ Seahawks
As you can tell, the most important thing for the Packers in Week 12 is to beat the Eagles. No matter what the rest of the league does, the benefits or detriments are much smaller than the impact Sunday Night Football will have.
Still, Packers fans should be supporters of the Falcons and Raiders this week. Those are two teams who are facing off against the Commanders and Seahawks, respectively, teams that are very active in the seventh-seed race in the NFC. If Green Bay is to make the playoffs, it would almost certainly come as the seven seed. According to FiveThirtyEight, though, there is a two percent chance that the Minnesota Vikings collapse and end up not winning the NFC North. The Vikings are the first 8-2 team in NFL history to have a negative point differential, but they’ve built a massive lead through the first three months of the season.
1 Percent Leverage Games
- [Bills] @ Lions (Thursday)
- Giants @ [Cowboys] (Thursday)
- [Patriots] @ Vikings (Thursday)
- Bears @ [Jets]
- [Saints] @ 49ers
All three of the Thanksgiving games have at least a slight impact on the Packers’ postseason chances. The Lions, Vikings and Bears, Green Bay’s three divisional rivals, losing would give the Packers a one percent boost in the playoff race while the Giants and 49ers, two teams in the seven-seed race, losing would also benefit the green and gold.
0 Percent Leverage Games
The four games above have virtually no impact on the Packers and are all AFC-NFC battles. In general, it would help Green Bay if the AFC teams won, but these games are way further down the order of priority.
Two percent and one percent games? Why does this matter? Well, that’s only the leverage of those games in complete isolation. For example, the Packers have a 16 percent chance to make the playoffs with a win against the Eagles. That number jumps up to 28 percent if the Raiders, Falcons, Bills, Cowboys, Patriots, Jets and Saints also win. All these individual games relate to one another, meaning that the more of these two and one percent games break in Green Bay’s favor, the more impactful they actually are.
The same is true if they break wrong, though. If the Packers lose to the Eagles, they drop down to a three percent chance to make the postseason. That number can get as low as one percent if the Seahawks, Commanders, Lions, Giants, Vikings, Bears and 49ers win in Week 12.
So there you have it. What can the outlook for Green Bay look like after this weekend? Anywhere between a 28 percent to 1 percent chance to make the playoffs. In all likelihood, it’ll be somewhere in between. This is going to be a massive week for the Packers. At least now you know who to root for on Thursday and Sunday.