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NFC Playoff Picture, Standings: Packers need help to make the postseason

Green Bay needs to beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday to have a realistic chance at the playoffs, but outside help is also welcomed.

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Happy Holidays to you and yours from our staff at Acme Packing Company. If you missed any of this week’s games to spend some good old quality time with the family, we have you covered on all the latest happenings in the NFC playoff race.

First, let’s take a look at the standings.


NFC Standings Through Week 16

  1. San Francisco 49ers: 11-4xz
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: 11-4x
  3. Detroit Lions: 11-4xz
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-7
  5. Dallas Cowboys: 10-5x
  6. Los Angeles Rams: 8-7
  7. Seattle Seahawks: 8-7
  8. Minnesota Vikings: 7-8
  9. Atlanta Falcons: 7-8
  10. Green Bay Packers: 7-8
  11. New Orleans Saints: 7-8
  12. Chicago Bears: 6-9
  13. New York Giants: 5-10e
  14. Washington Commanders: 4-11e
  15. Arizona Cardinals: 3-12e
  16. Carolina Panthers: 2-13e
  • x: Clinched Playoff
  • y: Clinched Wild Card
  • z: Clinched Division
  • e: Eliminated from the Playoff Race

With four teams already clinching a playoff berth and four others mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, the true playoff hunt in the NFC has turned into a competition with three available spots and eight contestants. Currently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the lead for the NFC South title, and the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks have the inside lane for the final two wild card spots.

A lot can change over the next two weeks, though, as the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints are just one game behind the Buccaneers, Rams and Seahawks trio. From a Packers perspective, it’s worth noting here that Green Bay has the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Rams if it does come down to both teams ending the season in a two-way tie in the standings. The Packers will also play the Vikings this week, which allows them to jump ahead of that squad, too. The Packers also hold a head-to-head tie-breaker over the Saints.


Biggest non-Packers games in Week 17

#1) Rams @ Giants

  • Playoff Leverage: 11 percent
  • Who to Cheer for: New York Giants

#2) Steelers @ Seahawks

  • Playoff Leverage: 8 percent
  • Who to Cheer for: Pittsburgh Steelers

#3) Falcons @ Bears

  • Playoff Leverage: 4 percent
  • Who to Cheer for: Chicago Bears

If you’re looking at this week from a rooting interest perspective, three games will impact the Packers’ playoff percentage by more than a single percentage point in Week 17, per the New York Times’ playoff machine. Right now, the Packers have a 29 percent chance to make the playoffs according to the NYT’s projections.

With a win, the Packers’ odds would jump to 61 percent. With a loss, they would crash down to one percent. The biggest factor in Green Bay making the postseason is taking care of business against the Vikings, after three straight weeks of disappointing performances against sub-standard quarterbacks.

With that being said, the environment around the NFC can impact Green Bay’s situation. For example, that one percent chance of making the playoffs with a loss to Minnesota jumps up to 16 percent if the Giants, Steelers and Falcons can come out of Week 17 with victories. If the Packers win and those three teams also take care of business, then Green Bay will have an 88 percent chance of making the playoffs going into Week 18.

Keep an eye on these games this weekend, even if it means (momentarily) rooting for the Chicago Bears.


Playoff Percentage Projection (via the New York Times’ playoff machine)

  • 100 percent: Eagles, Cowboys, Lions and 49ers
  • 84 percent: Buccaneers
  • 69 percent: Seahawks
  • 66 percent: Rams
  • 29 percent: Packers
  • 27 percent: Vikings
  • 12 percent: Falcons and Saints
  • 1 percent: Bears
  • 0 percent: Giants, Commanders, Panthers and Cardinals

Above are the playoff percentage projections from the New York Times, which list the Packers as the likely first team out of the playoff race. With that being said, the Seahawks and Rams are closer to coin flips than sure things to make the postseason. If one of them starts to slip, the Packers can take advantage.

Per the playoff machine, Green Bay has a 95 percent chance to make the playoffs if they win their final two games of the season against the Vikings and Bears. One reason for this is because the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18. The 49ers could very well be pushing their starters to play in that game to ensure they lock up the top seed in the NFC going into the postseason. If the Rams even go 1-1 while the Packers win out, Green Bay will jump over them in the NFC standings due to the head-to-head tie-breaker.