Who would the Green Bay Packers face in the NFC wild-card playoffs if they win Sunday vs. the Lions?
Four games — and arguably five — on Sunday bear impact on the Green Bay Packers' destiny beyond Week 18 of the 2022 NFL season, aside from the obvious must-win against Detroit to even qualify for the postseason.
The debatable game in that equation would be Seattle against the Los Angeles Rams at 3:25 p.m. Sunday, even though it has no bearing on a potential first-round playoff opponent. If Seattle wins, it would eliminate Detroit from postseason contention and potentially change the demeanor of the Sunday night clash between the Lions and Packers. Though as many will point out, a Lions team with nothing to play for anymore doesn't necessarily make the squad less dangerous.
Four other contests will determine who the Packers face in the wild-card round if Green Bay beats the Lions to clinch an NFC playoff berth. Coming into the week, the Packers (who would be the No. 7 seed) have a 50% chance of facing San Francisco, a 25% chance of facing Minnesota, a 12.5% chance of seeing Philadelphia and a 12.5% chance of seeing Dallas (and coach Mike McCarthy!)
More:Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions odds for Sunday Night Football Week 18 game of NFL season: spread, point total, money line
- Minnesota (12-4) at Chicago (3-13), noon
- Arizona (4-12) at San Francisco (12-4), 3:25 p.m.
- Dallas (12-4) at Washington (7-8-1), 3:25 p.m.
- New York Giants (9-6-1) at Philadelphia (13-3), 3:25 p.m.
Here's a handy chart that might help.
The scenarios in which Green Bay faces San Francisco
With teams playing limited rosters (like Chicago) or simply enduring the final throes of a disappointing year, it's easy to envision the four favorites winning these games, and that would be one scenario that would put Green Bay in San Francisco for the first round of the playoffs.
Of the possible 16 ways those four games finish, eight would lead to San Francisco facing the Packers at Levi's Stadium, good for 50%. However, six of those eight possible combinations feature Minnesota losing, which seems like a longshot against depleted Chicago. The most likely scenarios that land Green Bay against the 49ers: All four favorites winning or all but Dallas winning.
The scenario in which Green Bay faces Minnesota
(This segment has been clarified from its original version)
After Green Bay throttled Minnesota in Week 17, it's understandable if this looks like a desirable outcome for Packers fans.
If Minnesota somehow loses to the Bears, there's no way the Packers would face the Vikings. That's the only possible determination that can be made Sunday as a result of the early games.
There are four combinations that would pit Minnesota against the Packers, but all that matters is two outcomes: If San Francisco loses and Minnesota wins, then the Packers will play the Vikings.
The scenario in which Green Bay faces Dallas
The juiciest possibility on the table is Green Bay meeting former coach Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
This outcome doesn't hinge on what Minnesota does. It requires wins from San Francisco and Dallas and a loss by Philly, which is actually a plausible course of action.
The scenario in which Green Bay faces Philadelphia
Those who remember the 2010 Packers eking into the playoffs as the final seed in the NFC, then starting a Super Bowl run in Philadelphia, might appreciate the nostalgia of this arrangement, but it feels like the most longshot of the four.
As with Dallas, this one doesn't require Minnesota's involvement but it does require three other outcomes to go precisely one way. If Dallas and Philadelphia lose and San Francisco wins, the Eagles will face the Packers.
What about ties?
Most ties lead to a matchup with the 49ers.
- If the Packers tie Detroit, Green Bay won't be going to the playoffs
- If the Vikings tie Chicago, Minnesota won't gain any ground and remain a No. 3 seed (the Packers won't play them).
- If the 49ers tie Arizona, they'd be vulnerable to fall below a winning Vikings team. Otherwise, they'd remain the No. 2 seed and Green Bay's opponent. It would preclude the Packers from facing Philadelphia or Dallas.
- If the Cowboys tie Washington, they can't catch Philadelphia and would be no better than a No. 5 seed, unable to play the Packers.
- If the Eagles tie New York, they'll be locked into the No. 1 seed and won't play Green Bay.
- If multiple teams tie ... nah, we're not doing all the math. Status quo probably reigns and the Packers face the 49ers.
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.