This is the biggest week of the NFL season for the Green Bay Packers.
Not only can the Packers clinch the NFC North championship by winning at the Chicago Bears on Sunday, they can move up to No. 2 in the NFC playoff race and be in line for a first-round bye and second-round home game if the San Francisco 49ers lose at New England.
Even if the Packers lose on Sunday, they control their destiny in the NFC North, with a division title meaning a first-round home game.
The Packers (9-4) have a one-game lead over the Bears (8-5) entering this week’s showdown at Soldier Field. With a win, the Packers would wrap up the division because the best the Bears could do is tie the Packers at 10-6. With a series sweep, Green Bay would own the first tiebreaker.
With a Bears win, the teams would be tied at 9-5. The first tiebreaker, head-to-head, also would be tied. The second tiebreaker is division record. The Packers, who are 4-0 against the North, would fall to 4-1; the Bears, who are 2-2 against the North, would improve to 3-2.
In Week 17, Chicago plays at Detroit and Green Bay plays at Minnesota. If the Packers and Bears wind up tied for the NFC North title and tied with 4-2 records against the division, the fourth tiebreaker is common opponents. Here’s how that shakes out:
— Head-to-head: Tied 1-1 for the purpose of this example.
— Indianapolis: GB loss; CHI win.
— St. Louis: GB win; CHI win.
— Jacksonville: GB win; CHI win.
— Detroit: GB win, win; CHI win, Week 17.
— Tennessee: GB Week 16; CHI win.
— Houston: GB win; CHI loss.
— San Francisco: GB loss; CHI loss.
— Minnesota: GB win, Week 17; CHI win, loss.
— Seattle: GB loss; CHI loss.
— Arizona: GB win; CHI Week 16.
Total: Green Bay is 8-4, with Tennessee in Week 16 and Minnesota in Week 17. Chicago is 7-5, with Arizona in Week 16 and Detroit in Week 17.
Here is a look at the NFC playoff chase.
1. Atlanta — 11-2 (No. 1 NFC South).
2. San Francisco — 9-3-1 (No. 1 NFC West).
3. Green Bay — 9-4 (No. 1 NFC North)
4. N.Y. Giants — 8-5 (No. 1 NFC East)
5. Seattle — 6-5 (No. 2 NFC West)
6. Chicago — 8-5 (No. 2 NFC North)
7. Washington — 7-6 (No. 2 NFC East)
8. Dallas — 7-6 (No. 3 NFC East)
9. Minnesota — 7-6 (No. 3 NFC North)
10. St. Louis — 6-6-1 (No. 3 NFC West)
Could the Packers get homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs? The Falcons host the Giants on Sunday, play at Detroit and finish at home against Tampa Bay.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.