A dominant win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football has the Green Bay Packers sitting pretty in the 2020 NFL playoff picture, but there is still much work to be done over the final five games of the regular season if they want to contend for a first-round bye in the upcoming postseason.
The Packers (8-3) find themselves three games ahead in the NFC North after their 41-25 home win in Week 12 and are on the verge of clinching a spot in the playoffs for the 10th time in the last 12 years, completely in control of their own destiny in the division with games against Chicago and Detroit still left on the schedule.
Whether the Packers can finish as the top team in the NFC, though, will depend on how much help they get from other teams around the league — particularly from teams who face the New Orleans Saints (9-2) or Seattle Seahawks (7-3) down the stretch.
Here’s a breakdown of the current NFC playoff picture after Sunday’s slate of NFC games along with an updated look at Green Bay’s playoff scenarios after Week 12.
*Note: All data and percentages included here are courtesy of Playoff Status.
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Update Look at the NFC Playoff Picture
The Saints’ easy win over a quarterback-less Denver Broncos team in Week 12 leaves them at the top of the NFC for another week with their chances of missing the playoffs shrinking to less than 1%. They are also the only other NFC team aside from the Packers who are strongly favored to win their division.
From there, though, the conference becomes a pretty close race.
The Packers gained the inside track to the No. 2 seed with their win over the Bears, but the Seahawks bumped them back down to No. 3 within 24 hours after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) on Monday night. The Los Angeles Rams (7-4) and Arizona Cardinals (6-5) both remain in the hunt for the division, however, despite each losing in Week 12.
Then, there’s the NFC East, which doesn’t have any Super Bowl favorites among its four teams but is still a ways off from deciding its playoff representative. The New York Giants (4-7) and Washington Football Team (4-7) are leaders for the top spot at the moment, but the Eagles and Dallas (3-8) haven’t been eliminated yet, either.
Other wild-card contenders include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5), the San Francisco 49ers (5-6), the Vikings (5-6) and — technically — the Bears (5-6).
What Playoff Scenarios Remain for Packers?
After Week 12’s win, the Packers have just a 1% chance of being left out of the playoff picture with paths to clinching entry (and their division) in the coming weeks.
Right now, the odds favor the Packers to finish as the No. 3 seed (41%) with reasonable wiggle room for them to improve to either the No. 2 (32%) or No. 1 (21%). They also have just a 6% chance of finishing lower than a three-seed, which is an excellent place to be with four of their five remaining matchups against teams below .500.
If the Seahawks lose on Monday night and fall to 7-4, the Packers can guarantee a first-round bye and home-field advantage by winning out and finishing with a 13-3 record, but the competitiveness of NFC West may become a problem if the Packers lose a game or two.
The road to the No. 1 seed can also be as straightforward as winning out and rooting for a rival loss. The Saints currently hold a one-game advantage over the rest of the NFC, but they also must go through the Kansas City Chiefs — potentially without Drew Brees — to keep the Packers from undermining them.
Don’t forget; the Packers took out the Saints in Week 3 and hold the tiebreaker in the event that both teams finish with the same record.
There’s also the fact that a No. 2 seed doesn’t come with the same perks as in the past. Changes to the league’s postseason rules under the new CBA eliminates one first-round bye from each conference, meaning no week off for the Packers if they finish as anything less than the NFC’s top team.