GREEN BAY – Week 17 and nothing is decided in Packer Nation. Par for the course in recent years around here, and this season is no different.
The Packers’ playoff scenarios are much simpler now than they were just a week ago, though.
What hasn’t changed is if the Packers (9-6) beat the Lions (9-6), they are NFC North champs and will host a playoff game in the first round.
In the wild-card picture, the only other game that matters now is Redskins-Giants.
If the Redskins (8-6-1) lose, the Packers clinch a wild-card playoff spot and can improve their seed with a victory over the Lions to win the division.
If the Redskins win, Washington clinches the last wild-card spot, and the winner of the Packers-Lions game gets in the playoffs, while the loser’s season is over.
Pretty simple, right?
For those wondering what happened to Tampa Bay and all that strength-of-victory tiebreaker stuff we’ve been discussing the last few weeks, it’s pretty much a non-issue now.
If the Packers and Buccaneers both finish 9-7 in a tie for the last wild-card spot, Green Bay will have clinched strength of victory (in part thanks to Cincinnati’s missed kick on the final play of last Saturday night’s game vs. Houston, in case you’re curious).
That’s why Redskins-Giants now stands alone, as far as the Packers and a wild card are concerned. Tampa Bay’s only hope is if the Redskins and Giants play to an overtime tie, so we’re not going to go there.
Which brings us to the Packers’ possible playoff positions should they get in. Green Bay is in the running for the No. 3, 4, or 6 seed.
Again, these scenarios are rather straightforward.
If the Packers don’t win the NFC North but get a wild card by virtue of a Redskins loss, Green Bay will be the No. 6 seed and hit the road for the first round.
If the Packers win the division to get a home game, they will be either the No. 3 or 4 seed based on what the Seahawks (9-5-1) do.
If the Seahawks beat the 49ers, the Packers as NFC North champs would be No. 4.
If the 49ers beat the Seahawks, the Packers as NFC North champs would climb up to No. 3.
As for Green Bay’s potential opponents in a first-round playoff game, the Giants, Redskins, Seahawks, Falcons, and yes, the Lions in a back-to-back scenario, are all possibilities, but let’s not concern ourselves with that right now.
The most important thing is getting an invitation to the postseason party, so before settling in for the prime-time showdown at Detroit’s Ford Field, root for the Giants to beat the Redskins to take some pressure off.
Aside from that, cheer for the 49ers to upset the Seahawks if you want the Packers to get the best possible playoff seed.
Most important, of course, is to beat the Lions.