If you had asked anyone in October if the Green Bay Packers would end the season in a position to make the playoffs, they would have looked at you like you were from a galaxy far, far away.
However, after beating the Chargers, Lions, and Chiefs in November and early December and squeaking out a win versus the Panthers on Christmas Eve, the Packers are sitting at a 7-8 record and looking at a 94% chance of making the playoffs if they win out, according to the New York Times' playoff simulator.
The Packers will need to win out if they want a chance to make the playoffs, and they have a very favorable schedule to do just that.
This coming Sunday, the Packers travel across Wisconsin to Minnesota for a New Year's Eve matchup against division-rival Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. This contest has become much anticipated because it is virtually an elimination game for both teams. The loser this Sunday night will only have a 2% chance of making the playoffs.
What are Packers playoff chances entering Week 17?
With the Packers traveling on the road this weekend in a stadium that has proven to be hard to win at, it will be imperative that the team is prepared for the Vikings' best come Sunday.
- Current Packers playoff chances: 29%
- If they beat Vikings: 61%
- If they beat Vikings and Bears: 94%
- If they lose to Vikings: 2%
Even though Minnesota will bring their A-game against the Packers, the matchup is favorable for Green Bay on paper.
The Vikings are dealing with injuries. They lost Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins during the first matchup versus the Packers. Minnesota has been trying to replace him at QB all season with the likes of Josh Dobbs and Nick Mullens. The Packers will likely be facing Mullens on Sunday night.
Additionally, the Vikings got pretty beat up on the injury front on Christmas Eve. During their matchup with the Lions, Minnesota lost T.J. Hockenson and rookie standout wide receiver Jordan Addison to injuries. Hockenson is out for the season, while Addison didn't practice on Wednesday.
If the Packers can hold off Minnesota, they will likely have their playoff hopes all in front of them with a matchup against long-time division rival, the Chicago Bears, for the final game of the regular season.
Chicago would be coming into this game with the same juice as the Lions did last year when the Packers had a win-and-in scenario in Week 18. The Lions played spoiler to Aaron Rodgers' final hopes of making the playoffs with the Packers.
However, the Packers have owned this matchup against the Bears for the better part of two decades, and many people will be picking them to win this game at home with everything in front of them. This matchup is more challenging than the previous one against Minnesota.
The Bears have been playing a lot better football as of late. If the Packers can contain Justin Fields and force him to beat them with his arm, they should be fine, but Green Bay's defense has proven they can't stop a bloody nose in recent weeks, so stopping Fields could be too big an ask.
If Green Bay can hold off both Minnesota and Chicago to finish off the 2023 season, they will have a very good chance of making the postseason during Jordan Love's first year starting, a feat many people didn't think could happen.