The Green Bay Packers need to win in Week 16. That's their focus. However, the game could also have significant consequences for the division-rival Chicago Bears.
Chicago owns the Carolina Panthers' first-round pick in 2024. If the season ended today, it would be the No. 1 overall selection, as the Panthers have the worst record in the NFL. A win over the Packers would put that pick in jeopardy for the Bears.
The Panthers are only one win behind the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, who currently hold the Nos. 2 and 3 picks, respectively.
New England visits Denver this week, while Arizona coincidentally takes on Chicago. If the Panthers win and the Patriots and Cardinals lose, there would be a three-way tie at 3-12 settled by strength of schedule.
As things stand, the Panthers have the easiest strength of schedule at .517, which would still give them the top pick. But the Patriots are close at .519 and the Cardinals at .562. These numbers will change in the final three weeks of the season.
Packers loss to Panthers could cost the Bears Caleb Williams
Even if the Packers lose to the Panthers, there's still a good chance the Bears end up with the No. 1 overall selection. But it would no longer be the guarantee it once seemed. Far from it.
Why would this be significant?
Many analysts project USC quarterback Caleb Williams to go first overall. Passing on Williams to move forward with Justin Fields would be a bold decision by the Bears' front office. Williams has franchise QB potential in the NFL.
In his final two seasons at USC, Williams threw for 8,170 yards, 72 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions.
Even if the Bears did decide to stick with Fields, trading the No. 1 pick would potentially net even greater compensation than the move they made with the Panthers last year.
The Packers aren't focused on the Bears' potential draft pick. They are trying to keep their playoff dreams alive, and only a win against the Panthers in Week 16 will do.
But if Green Bay does suffer its third consecutive defeat, it could have even longer-lasting consequences in the NFC North than just costing the Packers a playoff berth.