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Even with loss to Pats, Packers can make the playoffs

Nov. 6, 2013 11:15 AM
 
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Conventional wisdom, for what it’s worth, says the Packers will lose to the New England Patriots this weekend, and the Chicago Bears will beat the quarterback-challenged Minnesota Vikings. That will hand the Bears the NFC North title no matter what happens in the final two weeks of the season. But it doesn’t eliminate the Packers from a playoff berth. Here is a reasonable scenario that would allow the Packers to qualify for the playoffs as a wild-card team, even if they lose to the Patriots. *The Packers would have to win their final two games at home against the Giants and Bears, which would give them a 10-6 record. *Either the Giants or Eagles would have to lose two of their final three games. The Giants’ schedule: Philadelphia, at Green Bay, at Washington. The Eagles’ schedule: at New York Giants, Minnesota, Dallas. The Packers’ best chance would be for the Giants to lose to the Eagles this week, then lose to the Packers next week at Lambeau Field. Assuming the Giants win their season finale against the Redskins, they would finish 10-6. *Tampa Bay would have to lose one of its final three games. The Bucs’ schedule: Detroit, Seattle, at New Orleans. If that happens the Buccaneers would finish 10-6. If all of the above occurs, the Packers, Giants and Bucs would be locked in a three-way tie at 10-6 and be fighting for the final NFC wild-card berth. This assumes New Orleans (10-3) would claim the other wild-card berth as the No. 5 seed. Here would be the criteria to break the three-way tie for the final wild-card spot: 1. Head-to-head. This is not applicable since none of the three teams has beaten the other two, and none of the three teams has lost to the other two. The Bucs have played neither the Giants nor the Packers this season. The Packers’ projected head-to-head victory over the Giants would only apply in a two-way tiebreaker. 2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference. The Packers, Giants and Bucs would all finish with 8-4 records against NFC opponents. 3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four. This is not applicable because the minimum of four common games is not met. The only common opponents that the Packers, Giants and Bucs share: Washington and Detroit. 4. Strength of victory. This measures the combined records of vanquished opponents, and the Packers currently hold a significant advantage in this category. The combined record of the teams the Packers have beaten, including projected wins over the Giants and Bears, currently stands at 61-70. The Giants are next with a 51-79 record, followed by the Bucs at 45-86 (assuming a best-case scenario for Tampa Bay). Results over the final three weeks of the season will affect the final strength of victory records, but it would be difficult for the Giants or Bucs to make up that much ground on the Packers. Thus, the Packers would qualify as the No. 6 seed in the NFC and play their first game on the road against the No. 3 seed, which very likely could be the Bears. One other tiebreaker scenario to consider: What happens if the Giants beat the Eagles this week and go on to claim the NFC East crown, leaving the Eagles, Packers and Bucs locked in a three-way tie for the final wild-carth berth? First, the Eagles would have to lose one of their final two home games, against either Minnesota or Dallas, to finish 10-6. If that happens, the Eagles would have a 7-5 conference record, compared to the Packers’ and Bucs’ 8-4 records against NFC opponents. With the Eagles dropping off, that would leave the Packers and Bucs fighting it out for the final berth, and in this two-team scenario the common opponents record would apply. Assuming  the Bucs beat the Lions this week, they would hold a 3-2 record against common opponents (Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington and Detroit) compared to the Packers’ 2-3 record against those same teams, and that would give the nod to the Bucs. If the Bucs lose to the Lions but finish 10-6, both the Packers and Bucs would have the same common opponents’ record, and strength of victory would then determine the tiebreaker and would likely give the Packers the edge.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.
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