The Green Bay Packers are on a bye in week 14, their latest bye in recent memory. With the team still theoretically alive in the NFC playoff hunt, they need to get significant help from other teams around the conference to have a shot at the postseason, as winning out alone will not get the job done.
On Friday, we broke down the pathways for the Packers to get to the postseason if they do win out, scenarios which largely involve two of four teams across the NFC East and West divisions losing a lot of games in the final five weeks. Packers fans should be pulling for the Giants, Commanders, 49ers, and Seahawks to lose every possible remaining game, though that possibility is complicated by the fact that week 15 features two head-to-head games among that group.
For this Sunday, however, the rooting interests in these games are clear, as they are in a few other contests around the NFL that could have an impact on the Packers’ positioning. Let’s take a look at this Sunday’s schedule to see which results Green Bay fans should cheer for in order to maximally help their team’s playoff chances.
Eagles over Giants
Impact: High, relatively speaking
The Eagles have already clinched a better record than the Packers, plus they have a head-to-head win. Meanwhile, Green Bay needs to finish with a better record than at least one of the Giants or Commanders. Last week’s tie between those two teams sort of kept both teams within arm’s length, but the best-case scenario for Green Bay was for one of those two NFC East rivals to sweep the other (they play again in week 15) and for the loser to crash and burn. Still, any loss by the Giants the rest of the way is a good thing, and Green Bay will need the loser of that week 15 matchup to win no more than one other game the rest of the way.
Should the Giants pull an upset here, Packers fans will need to cheer hard for them against Washington in that game and then see the Commanders go no better than 1-2 in the final three. If the Giants lose this week, either they or the Commies can still tank on the way out to help the Packers get in.
Vikings over Lions
Impact: Small, but still desirable
Minnesota has not yet clinched the division, but the Packers cannot catch them — only the Lions can. Therefore, pull for the Vikings to win at Ford Field, because a Lions loss drops them to even with Green Bay at 5-8. Even if the Packers win out, they might pass the Lions via the strength of victory tiebreaker, but Detroit losing this week would ensure that a Packers sweep in the final four weeks avoids any potential concerns about that number.
Texans over Cowboys
Impact: Extremely low
At 9-8, Dallas needs to lose out to end up in a tie with the Packers at 9-8 after 17 games. That’s an extraordinarily long shot, of course, especially since one of those losses has to come in this matchup. This week’s point spread of Cowboys -18 is the biggest spread of any game in the NFL this season. Dallas losing out would be a great scenario for Green Bay, as the Cowboys are the only contending team over whom the Packers have a head-to-head win, so pull for Houston here even though that seems mostly hopeless.
Jaguars over Titans
Impact: infinitesimally small
The Packers lost to the Titans, so a Tennessee win does not help the team’s strength of victory. Should things get to a strength of schedule playoff tiebreaker (which comes after strength of victory), a Titans win would help, but the odds of that mattering are so incredibly small that it’s probably not worth thinking about. Instead, the more likely scenario is for a lower SOS to help the Packers, as tied teams with worse SOS draft earlier. So let’s go for Jacksonville here instead.
Jets over Bills, Steelers over Ravens, Browns over Bengals
Impact: None in practicality
Jets-Bills is a game between two teams that the Packers played and lost to, so SOS and SOV won’t change based on the result. The other contests don’t affect Green Bay at all as they involve teams that the Packers did not play this season. If you’re clutching at something to pull for one way or another, however, pull for the teams with the worse records (Jets, Steelers, and Browns) to help the Packers’ chances at a higher draft pick if they do miss the postseason.
Buccaneers over 49ers
Tampa will likely end up winning the NFC South, while the 49ers (sans Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance) are in a dogfight with the Seattle Seahawks to stay atop the NFC West. The Packers would benefit from either or both of San Francisco and Seattle dropping games, as whichever team does not win the division will be ripe for the picking.
As we discussed on Friday, the Packers should have the tiebreaker over the 49ers via common opponent record if they drop four of their last five and finish 9-8, so getting one of those four losses out of the way quickly would be a good thing.
Panthers over Seahawks
Impact: Very high
See above. A Carolina upset in Seattle would be extremely helpful, as the Packers are hoping for the two NFC West teams to drop several games down the stretch. Green Bay needs to see Seattle lose at least three of their last five games, and the ideal situation would be at least two of those losses to come to NFC teams to give the Packers a tiebreaker on conference record. Pull for the Panthers in this one to get that started.
The Seahawks are 7-5, making them the closest of the NFC East and West teams to the Packers of those who are playing this weekend (Washington is 7-5-1, but they are on a bye this week). That actually makes this game arguably the biggest potential swing for the Packers’ playoff chances this week.
Dolphins over Chargers (SNF)
Impact: Microscopically low
A Dolphins win improves their record, which would help the Packers in a potential strength-of-victory tiebreaker scenario should they win out and defeat Miami on Christmas Day. That’s the extent of the impact to the Packers in this game, however, but it’s a clear benefit in the postseason hunt.
Broncos over Chiefs, Cardinals over Patriots (MNF)
Impact: None in practicality
See the AFC games above as the Packers did not play either of these teams, and pull for the Broncos and Cardinals for draft pick positioning.