The Green Bay Packers need to take care of their own business on Sunday afternoon against the Minnesota Vikings and next week against the Detroit Lions, but they still need a bit of help to make the postseason, even if they win their final two games. There is an easily-understood pathway to making that happen: get those two wins and see the Washington Commanders lose one game or the New York Giants lose both of their last two.
If the Packers somehow get all five of those results, they would make the playoffs as the sixth seed. The Dallas Cowboys winning on Thursday Night Football and staying alive in the NFC East could help next week, and several other games in week 17 could also affect the chances of the Packers getting results they need in week 18. Here are the teams that Green Bay fans should be pulling for this Sunday.
Browns over Commanders
After all of last week’s help that the Packers received, this is the one result this week that would give Green Bay the opportunity to control their own playoff journey in their final two games. As has been discussed ad nauseum, a Commanders loss in one of the last two weeks and two Packers wins clinches a playoff spot for the Packers. Cheer hard for the Browns this weekend, as painful as that may be given the player suiting up for them at quarterback.
Colts over Giants
Impact: Substantial, but need more help in week 18
If the Commanders manage to win out with Carson Wentz under center, the Packers need the Giants to lose both of their remaining games in order to give Green Bay a shot. Alternately, getting two Giants losses and one Commanders loss gives the Packers an opportunity at the 6th seed. Does anyone believe in a Jeff Saturday-led Colts team to pull an upset? Probably not, but cheer for one anyway.
Saints over Eagles
Impact: Knock-on effects for week 18
The Packers need to hope that the Cowboys and Eagles have something to play for in week 18, as they play the Commanders and Giants, respectively. The only way that happens — assuming the Packers can beat the Vikings — is for the Eagles to still have competition for the NFC East or a first-round bye. With the Cowboys winning on Thursday night, their hope for both will remain alive for another week should the Eagles suffer an upset loss. But if Minnesota loses and Philadelphia wins this week, the Eagles clinch the division and the bye.
Therefore, an Eagles loss helps the Packers by ensuring that they and the Cowboys both have a division title to play for next week.
Bears over Lions
Impact: Give the Lions nothing to play for in week 18
There’s a scenario in which the Lions are eliminated from the postseason race this week. With the Packers playing Detroit to finish off the season, Green Bay should hope that happens. That scenario involves a few specific results: a Packers win, a Seattle Seahawks victory over the New York Jets, and the aforementioned Saints upset over the Eagles, in addition to the Lions losing to Chicago. There is technically a minuscule chance of Detroit still getting in with those results (less than 0.1%, according to 538), but it depends on an insane number of other results going their way in both weeks 17 and 18.