Weekly Update: Which playoff spot will the Packers get?

With the W on Sunday, Matt LaFleur is the first Packers head coach to win 10 NFL games in his first year with the team. The Packers are now a 10-3 team and because the Saints lost to the 49ers last weekend, they hold the #2 spot in the NFC. How are the chances of keeping it and could they even get homefield advantage until Miami? Let’s have a look at the probabilites of getting certain playoff spots.

The #6 spot (12%)

For the Packers, the playoffs are 96% safe. If they fall behind the Vikings, they still have very good chances of still being in the playoffs, but then they’d hold this #6 spot. With the Vikings being one game (and the tiebreaker) behind, the Packers would have to lose two of the remaining three games to let the Vikings pass them (with the Vikings winning out).

#3 (34%) or #2 (48%): Saints or Packers?

The #5 spot has a probability of less than 1% and the #4 isn’t even possible for the Packers, so let’s just ignore them.

The Packers will get the #3 spot, if they stay ahead of the Vikings (very likely), but fall behind the current #3 Saints. Although, it’s a little bit more complicated than that: Currently, the Packers and Saints have the same record (10-3). The Saints have played two more games in the conference, which is the first tiebreaker, with one more win and one more loss than the Packers (8-3 record for the Saints, 7-2 for the Packers). The NFL ranks the Packers at #2, because the Packers have three conference games left and the Saints one – if the Packers win out, they have a 10-2 record in the conference and the Saints a 9-3 record (they still play the Panthers) at best.

So currently, the Packers have less wins in the conference than the Saints, but they still control their destiny for the #2 spot.

If they have the same record at the end of the regular season and also tie at the conference record, it would go to the record against common opponents, where the Saints would have to win against the Panthers in their week 17 game to also tie this tiebreaker, otherwise the Packers would win. Then it would go to “strength of victory”, where the Saints currently have a small advantage (.461 vs .434).

Pretty complicated, but it’s very likely the Packers need to win out (Bears, Vikings, Lions) to stay at the #2 spot – the Saints “only” play the 6-7 Colts, the 8-5 Titans (yes, this could be interesting with the Titans trying to get a playoff spot in the AFC South against the 8-5 Texans) and the 5-8 Panthers.

The #1 spot

Short story: The Packers chances of getting there are not very high.

Basically, it would require some help by the Seahawks, because the Packers need to pass both the Seahawks and 49ers. The 49ers have a one game lead against the Seahawks, but they play each other in week 17.

With a Seahawks win, they would have the tiebreaker against the 49ers and then the decision for the #1 spot would be made between the Seahawks and Packers (if they have the same record, obviously) and NOT the 49ers and Packers (where the Packers would lose because of they lost against them). If the Packers and Seahawks both win out, they also have the same conference record. But, and here’s the bummer, they Seahawks would likely win the “common oponnents” tiebreaker, because the Packers lost against the 49ers and the Seahawks won twice.

Realistically, the Packers can only get the #1 spot, if they win out and the Seahawks lose at least once (not against the 49ers, though), and the 49ers lose twice (they play the aspiring Rams, Seahawks and Falcons).

The most important games next week for the Packers:
Packers vs Bears
Colts vs Saints
Cowboys vs Rams
Falcons vs 49ers
Panthers vs Seahawks

Max Sachs is an international Packers fan from Germany. As a part of the Packers Germany, he tries to convince everyone around him to cheer for the greatest franchise on earth - or to start with, for American football in general. You can find him on Twitter @KaesekopfDE (the german translation for cheesehead).
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