After a four-game losing streak, the Green Bay Packers’ seven-year playoff streak seemed in dire jeopardy.
On Saturday at Lambeau Field against the rival Vikings, the Packers could get into the playoffs — a week early, no less.
Talk about a perfect Christmas present.
According to the NFL’s weekly playoff scenarios, four things have to happen:
— First and foremost, Green Bay (8-6), which is in sixth place in the NFC, has to take care of business against Minnesota (7-7). That would give Green Bay nine wins and eliminate the Vikings.
— Second, Tampa Bay (8-6), which is in seventh place, has to lose at New Orleans (6-8). That would mean the best the Buccaneers could do was get to nine wins.
— Third, Washington (7-6-1), which is in eight place, has to lose at Chicago (3-11). The Redskins, therefore, couldn’t match the Packers’ nine wins and would be eliminated.
— Fourth, Atlanta (9-5) has to win at Carolina (6-8). That would give the Falcons the NFC South title. And that would mean a double-whammy for the Buccaneers, because the Packers would have the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Bucs wrapped up.
Green Bay’s focus is simply on winning this game, which would set up a New Year’s Day matchup at Detroit for the NFC North title. The division winner gets a Wild Card weekend home game.
“Mike (McCarthy) has said it since I’ve been here: We’ve got to get to 10 wins before we worry about playoffs,” receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Obviously, we know where that would put us and what that means, That’s what we’re worried about right now is taking care of Minnesota this week and that would give us an opportunity to go play for the division over in Detroit. That’s what’s on our plate, that’s what we’re worried about. If something else happens then, that’s great, but we’re worried about this week and trying to get one more win and put ourselves in position to win the division.”
The Lions (9-5) play at Dallas (12-2) on Monday night but that outcome would be irrelevant from the Packers’ perspective should Green Bay topple the Vikings.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.