Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy could be a huge part of the Packers push the final three weeks of the 2013 regular season. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Green Bay Packers: Path to the Playoffs


 

Mathematically, the Green Bay Packers not out of this thing.

Don’t give up hope, yet, Packer fans. Even without Aaron Rodgers, the Green and Gold is still in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, the ways to get there are limited. In case you were wondering, here is what we need to happen these final three weeks.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

As an organization, the Packers are accustomed to making their own destiny. The past few years, the cards have always been in their hands. The Packers controlled their own fate in 2010 when they won out to slide in as the sixth seed. They controlled their own fates when they scored a first round bye in the 2011 playoffs. They controlled their own fate when they lost to the Vikings in week 17 and gave up the bye in 2012.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn is being counted on to lead the team for at least another week. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Packers aren’t accustomed to needing help from other teams. But they are in that situation now.

So, here’s what it looks like:

Week 15 – Dallas:

Packers fans were pulling for Dallas on Monday night to put the Bears back one game in the NFC North. They disappointed us. Let’s hope they don’t do the same thing this Sunday. This is a must-win for the Packers. Actually, every game is a must-win from here on out. The Packers are off to a good start, defeating Atlanta last week. They can’t stop there.

Week 16 – Pittsburgh:

The Packers host the Steelers in week 16; two cold weather teams fighting for life in their respective divisions. The Steelers have all but been eliminated from playoff contention but are still looking to play spoiler for the Packers. The Packers need a win in their final game at home this season.

Week 17 – Chicago:

If all goes according to plan, the Packers will be traveling to Chicago on a three-game winning steak. Even if Chicago wins their remaining games, a record of 9-6-1 will beat 9-7 if the Packers can beat the Bears at Soldier Field. If the Bears are still in contention for the division title at this time, it could very well come down to one of the NFL’s oldest and most bitter rivalries for the NFC North. Wouldn’t that be something? It would be reminiscent of 2010, another good sign for us heading to the playoffs.

CHICAGO BEARS

Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Because the Bears own a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers right now, they have moved ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North standings at 7-6. They now share that top seat with the Detroit Lions, with the Packers lurking just behind.

These next three games are very important for the Bears to stay in the race for the North. One loss and their postseason hopes would be dashed (if the Packers were to win out). If the Packers and Lions both lose this week, a loss would find the Bears in the same place they are now and postpone this “must-win” scenario for all teams until the following week.

As Packers fans, we are now fans of the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. Weeks 15 and 16 brings two tough contests to the Bears. The Browns are building right now. Josh Gordon has been playing out of his mind and Jason Campbell looked like an MVP last week against the Patriots. They have been pressuring teams for a couple of weeks, waiting to make the leap. This could be their week against a very suspect Bears defense.

The Eagles? Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy are the real deal. That is a game that the Bears could absolutely lose. If both of those games are dropped, the week 17 matchup with the Packers could very well mean nothing.

I’d like to see a good game at Soldier Field against the Packers, but I’d like to already be squarely in the playoffs by that time.

DETROIT LIONS

Running back Joique Bell and his Detroit teammates are in the best position to control their own destiny in the NFC North. Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Here is where the Packers need the most help. The Lions look like they are rolling right now. Despite a snowy day loss to the Eagles on Sunday, the Lions have been playing well. Look at what happened to the Packers on Thanksgiving. Whether that is a testament to the Lions or a disparagement to the Packers is yet to be seen.

As Packers fans, we are now fans of the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. I can already see that I am going to have real trouble cheering for the Giants and the Vikings, but I’ll do what needs to be done.

With the weather affecting the Lions like it did last week, we couldn’t have gotten a worse down-the-stretch schedule. The Lions finish off the season in three dome games; two at home and ending at Minnesota. Weather is a non-factor. So, we need to rely on the inconsistency of the Lions’ offense and the suspect play of the defense to keep us in the hunt.

Realistically, the Lions could drop all of their last three contests. The Ravens are on a hot streak right now. The Giants are just a few hits away from a homerun and the Vikings would love to spoil an NFC North opponent’s dreams of Super Bowl fame. But, they could also win out and that would be devastating for the Packers.

The Packers need to Lions to drop AT LEAST one game down the stretch; it would be more comfortable if they lose two. I could see the Ravens and the Giants being those two losses. I sure hope they are because I don’t know if I can cheer for the Vikings … at all.

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Wild Card hopes are all but dashed — the Packers need to win the North. Green Bay is one-half game back from the lead. If the team keeps winning, starting at Dallas, the Packers can realistically make it there. Just keep your eye on the scoreboards, too. If you see another mark in the loss column for the Lions and Bears this week, you’ll know that someone wants the Packers to win this thing.

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  • Ben

    Great summary! Minor correction however, the Packers needed help in 2010 and they got it with a last second DeSean Jackson punt return against the Giants in the final week. I think the only team in the division deserving to go to the playoffs is the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. As bad as they are on the rest of the team they could still steal a playoff win this year.