The short answer: Mathematically, yes, the Green Bay Packers playoff odds aren’t zero. Realistically, however, it’s a long shot.
The Packers are coming off a nice 28-19 win over the Bears in Chicago, in which the offense got off to a typically slow start, and the defense played much worse than the score suggests. Green Bay then remembered that Christian Watson is far and away the best receiver on the team, and Watson even added a long rushing touchdown that secured the win.
Unfortunately, despite the win over Chicago, the game didn’t provide much evidence that the Packers have it in them to go on a run to end the season.
Green Bay sits at 5-8 with just four more games left. The Packers would likely already be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention if it weren’t for the NFC being the far weaker conference this season.
At this point, with the playoffs fading into the distance, Packers fans face a moral struggle. As fans, we obviously root for wins. But more wins mean a worse pick in the upcoming draft, a potentially high pick that could turn into an important contributor for the next season and beyond.
It’s always a great feeling for your team to make the playoffs, though it’s hard not to imagine the Packers being overwhelmed against a potential playoff opponent.
At the end of the day, for myself and I’m sure most Packers fans, a playoff berth in this season outweighs whatever might happen in the future, especially since hope for Jordan Love is at an all-time high right now. It’s unlikely Green Bay would select a quarterback even if they were to secure a high draft pick.
What does the rest of the Packers’ schedule look like, and how could the rest of the NFC shape up in the last four weeks?
Out of the 16 seeds in the NFC, the top seven make the postseason. The Packers currently sit at the 10th seed, so they’re not exactly on the brink of the playoffs. The Vikings have all but clinched the NFC North, so the Packers would need to snag one of the three Wild Card seeds.
The Packers’ greatest competitors for a Wild Card spot are the Seahawks, Lions, Commanders, Giants and Falcons. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was carted off with a foot injury against the Dolphins Sunday, and at the time of writing this the severity of the injury is unknown. Even if Garoppolo misses the rest of the regular season, I still like the 49ers to win the NFC West over Seattle.
The Packers’ chances take a brutal jab considering they’ve already lost to the Commanders, Giants and Lions. Green Bay plays the Lions once more in the last week of the season, but the losses to the two other teams ensure the Packers would be on the wrong side of a potential tiebreaker.
The Giants and Commanders tied Sunday, and they already have another matchup in two weeks. That game could very well be the deciding factor in which one of them makes the playoffs. New York and Washington have the 2nd and 3rd toughest remaining schedule in terms of win percentage respectively. It’s a tough game to pick between two evenly matched teams, indicated by their tie, but the Commanders will be coming off a bye week and are at home. Washington makes the playoffs with the Giants missing after a 6-1 start.
Seattle has a clear path to the playoffs. They get the Panthers and Rams that should get them up to nine wins. They play good teams in the 49ers, Chiefs and Jets, but winning just one of those games gets them to 10 wins which should be enough to punch a ticket to the postseason. They’re right in the middle with the 16th toughest remaining schedule.
The Falcons have been frisky all year, a testament to head coach Arthur Smith. A lack of talent on the roster could rear its ugly head to end their season. I think the Falcons finish 2-2, but even those two wins are toss-ups. The Falcons would be lucky to finish the season 7-10, keeping them well out of the playoff hunt.
It’s unfortunate for Green Bay that the rise of the Lions being a competitive, interesting, spicy team coincides with the Vikings having their best season in years. Detroit has won four of their last five and has scored 30+ points in half of their games this season. The Packers were stifled by the Lions in their Week 9 matchup, suffering an embarrassing 15-9 loss.
The Lions have shown they have the offensive potential to hang with anyone. Detroit could realistically win anywhere between 2-4 more games to cap off the season. I think they’ll finish 8-9 and feel really good about where they are heading into next year, although even an optimistic 8-9 record isn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.
Where could the Packers fit in all this?
They play the moribund Rams after the bye week. The Packers have won four of their last five games against the defending Super Bowl champions over the last decade, including two decisive wins throughout 2021 against far better Rams teams. Matthew Stafford was recently placed on IR and will miss this game as well.
The Packers play the Lions in Week 18. In their previous loss in Detroit, Green Bay had more total yards, more yards per play, more time of possession and more first downs. They’ll give a better fight than the Rams, but it’s a winnable game in the regular season closer at home.
Despite those two easier games, the Packers have the 9th toughest remaining schedule. After the Rams, Green Bay flies to Miami and then hosts Minnesota, two of the better teams in the NFL.
The Vikings are a familiar divisional opponent, and while the Packers will be considerable underdogs in this one, it’s a winnable one at home. The Dolphins, on the other hand, feature a premiere passing attack that will give nightmares to the Packers’ secondary. The Dolphins have a bottom-tier running game, but even the poorest ground game can push around Green Bay’s 31st ranked run defense.
If the Packers win out, they have a good chance at getting the 7th seed at 9-8, but the chances of them beating two vastly superior teams in back-to-back weeks are slim. I think the Packers cap off the year 2-2, but 1-3 and 3-1 aren’t out of the question.
The Packers will probably finish with the 9th or 10th seed, outside of the playoffs and forcing the team to immediately consider the difficult decisions coming this offseason.——————