The Green Bay Packers are currently 5-6, and are third in the NFC North standings. Though a long shot, the Packers still can make the playoffs. Currently, the Packers have roughly a 5% chance at making the playoffs, and a 1% chance of winning the NFC North.
So You’re telling me there’s a chance? Yes, yes there is.
Last year, they were in a similar situation when Aaron Rodgers said that he believed they could run the table, and they did. However, this season is slightly different. Every season, injuries plague almost every team in the NFL. This year, the Packers suffered one of the worst losses in sports, losing your starting quarterback. Now, the Green Bay Packers did not lose just any ol’ quarterback, they lost the quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Yes, the Aaron Rodgers with the best TD:Int ratio in the history of the National Football league with 4.3 touchdowns per interception. He is also the NFL’s all time leader in regular season passer rating at 104.1. So this year, making a run at the playoffs after an average regular season seems far off, but not impossible, however, the Packers will need some help.
First off, they need to win all of their last five games. First, they play the Buccaneers. At 4-7, the Bucs are not having the season they thought they would. Jameis Winston is back in the starting lineup, coming off of a shoulder injury. Winston is not having a great season, and the Bucs offense has looked OK all season. If Brett Hundley and company can play the way they played against Big Ben and the Steelers, they should have no problem winning this game, as well as the game after, which is against the 0-11 Browns. After these two games is when it gets really interesting.
If the packers end up 7-6 with three games left, they have a real shot at the playoffs. Their chances are even better, because Aaron Rodgers practiced on Saturday December 2nd, which means he can come back for the Carolina Panthers game. The Packers last three games are against Carolina (9-3), Minnesota (9-2), and Detroit (6-5). Not only are these must win games, but all these teams are playoff contenders, and wins against these teams will not only hand them a loss, but for Carolina, could be a tie breaker game. The Packers already lost to the Viking and the Lions, so these wins are needed to have any chance to win the NFC North, which would guarantee a playoff spot.
Winning the NFC North would be nearly impossible, because the Vikings are already 9-2, and the best the Packers can do is 10-6. The Vikings play the Falcons, Panthers, Bengals and Bears, along the with the Packers to close out the season. The Viking winning zero of those games is a long shot, but only winning one to end up 10-6 is a little more realistic. Also to win the division, the lions would have to lose two more games out of their last five to end up 9-7. Those losses could come from the Packers and the Ravens, or even potentially the Bengals. The Lions will most likely beat the Bears and Buccaneers.
If they do not win the division, they would still need to win five games to end up at 10-6, because there is five more teams ahead of them right now that are not division leaders. Not to mention two divisions leader are 8-3, and also could end up losing and not getting to most likely magical ten wins. The top two teams outside of the division leaders are Carolina Panthers (8-3) and the Atlanta Falcons (7-4). Seattle is also 7-4, the Lions sit at 6-5, and the Cowboys are 6-6. Packers winning out most likely will not be enough, as they will need Carolina to drop three of five if the Packers beat them. With the Falcons, they beat the Packers earlier, so they own the tiebreakers against them. The Packers need the falcons to drop three of five also to end up 9-7. The Packers beat the Seahawks, so the Seahawks could win three of five and go 10-6, and the Packers would still have the advantage.
However, exactly which games each team loses is also important, because the Falcons play the Saints two more times, and then the Vikings and Panthers. Carolina plays the Saints, and Vikings. The playoff picture in the NFC is very convoluted, and will most likely not be decided until week 17. But if the Packers win out, they are definitely still in the hunt. Their best chance is if the Saints win the NFC South and the Rams win the NFC West; and then the Panthers end up 10-6, the Cowboys to end 10-6, or the Seahawks end up 10-6. They would own all of those tiebreakers. That is of course, as long as the one of these two teams end up 9-7: Lions, or the Falcons. The Packers still have a chance, and if Aaron Rodgers comes back and runs they table again, they could be back in the playoffs.
Of course, this is all if and that’s a big IF the Packers can win five/five games to close the season. If the Packers lose any of these games, especially to the panthers or the Lions, their playoff chances are practically gone. However, if they lose to the Bucs or the Browns, they should sit Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season, let him get healthy, and seek out some help in free agency and the draft. If Brett Hundley finishes out the season, the Packers will most likely end up 6-10 or 7-9. (maybe they should just tank and go 5-11 if they lose to the Buccaneers). Barring any trades, they will most likely pick somewhere from 10-16. As always, defense is a top priority this offseason. If Ted Thompson decides to make a big move in the offseason, a free agent pickup or trade could potentially be huge for the Packers. If they could make it work, a move for Richard Sherman from the Seahawks would greatly improve the defense, and he could also help develop some of the younger guys around him, particularly Kevin King. Another move could be Trumaine Johnson from the Rams, or Malcolm Butler from the Patriots. Both are scheduled to be a free agent after this year. These are just two of the tons of good cornerbacks scheduled to be free agents this offseason. Other places to look in free agency could be offensive line to protect Rodgers. They could look to improve these spots, or other spots in defense in the draft also, but that is all dependent on where they fall. Either way, the Packers need to listen to Aaron Rodgers and get him some help on both sides of the ball this offseason, so they hopefully the Packers won’t be in this position next year.