As long as it’s still mathematically possible, the Green Bay Packers’ goal will be to win the NFC North. But following the Chicago Bears’ victory on Thanksgiving Day, the Packers’ most likely route to the playoffs is via a wild-card berth.
The Bears’ impressive victory at Detroit, despite playing without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, helped them improve to 8-3 on the season.
Three wins from their final five would make it impossible for the Packers to catch them.
If the Packers win out from here they will finish the season 10-5-1, which would give them a good chance of making the playoffs.
But winning out might not be enough to win the NFC North. If the Packers win all six, they would need the Bears to lose three.
Here’s the good news: Green Bay visits Chicago in Week 15, which is a great opportunity to close the gap and secure the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Bears also host the Los Angeles Rams and visit the Minnesota Vikings.
Here’s the bad news: Green Bay would still need to win all six of its remaining games to finish in first place. The Packers are yet to win two games in a row all season long.
Mike McCarthy and his team will be focused on one game at a time. The aim is, of course, to win their final six just as they did two years ago.
Maybe winning out would be good enough for a division title. Maybe not. But it’d almost certainly be enough to secure a wild-card berth.
The Packers are still right in the mix in the NFC.
The New Orleans Saints (10-1), Los Angeles Rams (10-1) and Bears (8-3) are running away with it in their divisions, but the wild-card race is still wide open.
The Carolina Panthers (6-4) have been pulled back into the wild-card race following two straight defeats. They are currently the NFC’s fifth seed.
Just ahead of the Packers are Sunday’s opponents, the Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1). They are currently the sixth seed. The Washington Redskins (6-5) and Seattle Seahawks (5-5) are ahead of the Packers just outside of the playoff positions.
Defeats for the Detroit Lions (4-7) and Atlanta Falcons (4-7) on Thursday all but eliminates them from contention.
Realistically, six teams are competing for two wild-card spots: Carolina, Minnesota, Washington, Seattle, Green Bay and Philadelphia.
While Sunday night’s game against Minnesota should be considered a must-win, a victory would set them up for a playoff push in their final five games.
The Bears moved a step closer to winning the NFC North this week, but the Packers are still very much alive in the wild-card race.