The Green Bay Packers must win on Christmas Day when they visit the Miami Dolphins. That much we already know.
Unfortunately, the Packers’ destiny isn’t in their own hands entering Week 16. Along with winning out, they require some help elsewhere in the NFL.
They have received some much-needed help in recent weeks, but which teams do they need to win in Week 16?
San Francisco 49ers (vs. Washington Commanders)
The San Francisco 49ers helped the Packers last week by defeating the Seattle Seahawks, and they are needed again on Christmas Eve.
On Saturday, San Francisco hosts the seventh-seed Washington Commanders. The Commanders were beaten by their division-rival New York Giants, which means the Packers need them to lose two of their remaining three games.
The 49ers can hand them one of those defeats on Saturday. As long as Green Bay wins out, it would then need Washington to lose to either the Cleveland Browns or Dallas Cowboys.
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Seattle Seahawks)
The Seattle Seahawks are in free-fall after losing four of their past five games. It has allowed the Packers to close the gap.
Seattle isn’t currently in a playoff position but is one of the teams Green Bay must overtake to get into the playoffs.
The good news is that the Packers only need the Seahawks to lose one more game, as long as they win out themselves. There’s a great chance that defeat comes to the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.
Carolina Panthers (vs. Detroit Lions)
The Packers don’t necessarily need the Detroit Lions to lose before Week 18, but here’s why they should hope they do.
Green Bay needs to win out, which would give it a 9-8 record. That would include a win over Detroit. But if the Lions win their other two games, they would also be 9-8.
So, how would the tiebreakers work for a playoff berth?
1. Head-to-head tiebreaker
If we assume Green Bay wins out, this would be a tie.
2. Division record
Again, Green Bay has to win out, finishing with a division record of 4-2. In the event of a tie, Detroit would beat Chicago but lose to Green Bay. Its division record would also be 4-2.
3. Best record vs. common opponents
Guess what? In the scenario of the Packers winning out and the Lions winning two of three, this would also be a tie.
4. Conference record
Another tie? You bet.
5. Strength of victory
This is determined by adding up the win-loss records of the teams you have beaten. The Lions currently have the upper hand, however, there is a big ‘but’.
If the Packers win out, they will have beaten three teams with winning records (Dolphins, Vikings, Lions), while the Lions would have beaten two teams with losing records (Panthers, Bears).
The strength of victory tiebreaker would be incredibly close, and potentially another tie.
So, the conclusion here is clear: Root for the Lions to lose before Week 18 so we don’t have to get the calculators out.