Two weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers were in great shape. They had reeled off victories over the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs and were entering a favorable five-game stretch to close out the regular season.
Life moves fast in the NFL. Green Bay has lost back-to-back games to the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the defense largely to blame. Joe Barry's unit has allowed 819 total yards, 58 points, and forced only five punts on 21 drives.
Green Bay is 6-8. If the season ended today, Matt LaFleur's team would be on the outside looking in at the NFC playoffs.
How have consecutive defeats impacted the Packers' playoff chances?
Packers have zero margin for error in NFC playoff race
The New York Times' playoff predictor gives Green Bay a 25 percent of making the postseason. That's how significant Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay was.
But there's hope. If the Packers can put together a run and beat the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears, they will have an excellent chance of earning a wild-card berth. Here's how the Packers' playoff chances will look if they run the table:
- Beat Panthers: 33 percent
- Beat Panthers and Vikings: 67 percent
- Beat Panthers, Vikings, and Bears: 96 percent
This, of course, would change based on other results around the league. But the math is simple: If Green Bay wins its remaining three games, it will almost certainly clinch a playoff berth. Two wins might be enough, depending on who they beat, but one win almost certainly won't do it.
If the Packers lose to the Panthers in Week 16, their playoff chances will drop to 10 percent.
The game at Minnesota in Week 17 is particularly important. Not only is it a divisional game, but the Packers and Vikings are competing for a wild-card berth. The Packers cannot lose this one.
Even if Green Bay beats Carolina and Chicago, a loss to Minnesota would reduce the Packers' playoff chances to 13 percent. That's how significant the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on New Year's Eve is.
The Packers still (almost) control their own destiny. Winning out likely gets them in. But consecutive losses have wiped out their margin for error, and Green Bay can't leave Minnesota without a victory in Week 17.