The Green Bay Packers only found the end zone twice Monday night, but their fate as NFC North champions was as good as sealed by the time they scored their second touchdown.
The Packers (12-3) rallied from a small halftime deficit for a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the third quarter and added six more points in the fourth quarter on a long Aaron Jones run, giving them all the lead they would need to finish off the Minnesota Vikings (10-5) in Minneapolis.
The win — their fifth straight against rivals this year — not only brought Green Bay its first divisional crown since 2016 but also locked in the Packers as one of the top three seeds in this year’s postseason. It also consequently ensured the Vikings will have to fight for survival in an NFC wild-card game.
Here’s a breakdown of the current NFC playoff picture after the Packers’ 23-10 win over the Vikings along with an updated look at Green Bay’s playoff scenarios after Week 16.
*Note: All data and percentages included here are courtesy of Playoff Status.
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Updated Look at the NFC Playoff Picture
There are only seven teams left in the NFC playoff race, but there is still plenty of room for movement coming into the final week of the season, including where the Packers are concerned.
The San Francisco 49ers (12-3) can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a victory next week in their regular-season finale at Seattle, but the Seahawks (11-4) are facing a do-or-die situation in the race for the NFC West. There is a reason why the NFL flexed such a high-stakes conference showdown to prime time next Sunday night.
The New Orleans Saints (12-3) are also still gunning for the top seed, hoping to win their finale and rooting for the Packers to drop at least one of their final two games. They came into Monday night slotting best as the No. 2 seed with a 70 percent chance of landing a first-round bye, but they could be bumped as low as the No. 3 seed if Green Bay and San Francisco each wins its final game.
Right now, though, there are only two teams in the playoff picture who have a chance of still being eliminated in the final week of the season.
The Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) thrashed the Dallas Cowboys (7-8) for a bit of revenge on Sunday and overtook the NFC East in the process, but they will need to win their final game in Week 17 to control their playoff destiny. Should Philly lose and Dallas win, the Cowboys would replace them, while the No. 4 seed awaits the winner in either case with by far the worst record among divisional leaders.
Three Possible Seeds Remain for Packers
After winning Monday night, the Packers have reasonable shots at each of the top three seeds in the conference coming into their Week 17 road game at the Detroit Lions.
The most likely scenario remains tied to the No. 2 seed, which they retook from the Saints with their latest victory and would require two things: a Packers win over the Lions and a 49ers win over the Seahawks. That would allow San Francisco to clinch the No. 1 seed and would force New Orleans into the No. 3 seed, leaving Seattle and either Philadelphia or Dallas to contend for a right to face Green Bay at Lambeau Field in the divisional round.
The Packers are also still in relatively good shape to seize the No. 1 seed and the coveted home-field advantage that comes with it. To see that happen, the Packers will obviously still have to beat the Lions, but they’ll also want to see the Seahawks stand strong at their home and knock off the 49ers, winning the division and forcing both of them to finish with one fewer win than Green Bay at 12-4.
Determining the opponent in the No. 1 seed scenario depends on how the Saints finish, which can’t influence the Packers’ claim over the top spot since they lose the tiebreaker. If the Saints win out and finish 13-3 to take the No. 2 seed, the Packers will be looking at a rematch with either the 49ers or Vikings at Lambeau Field in the divisional round. The Saints trade places with the 49ers if they lose their final game and the rest of the scenario holds up, as they also lose the tiebreaker to San Fran.
Worst-case scenario: The Packers lose to the Lions, see the 49ers and Saints both win and fall into the No. 3 seed, where they would be forced to face the Vikings for the third time this season.