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How the Green Bay Packers Can Make the Playoffs: Through Week 16

The Packers have a 78% chance to get a first-round bye.

2020 N.F.L. Playoff Picture:
Every Team’s Playoff Chances

Explore the 2020 N.F.L. playoff picture like an expert.

There are 65,536 different ways the season could end. Explore them all.

Jan. 2, 2021 Updated 11:13 p.m. ET

The N.F.L. Playoff Picture, Team by Team

The Buffalo Bills have won the A.F.C. East.

The Bills have little to play for Sunday. They clinched the A.F.C. East weeks ago and will host a playoff game in the wild-card round — in a stadium that will be allowed to hold 6,700 fans, per an order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo — whether they win or lose.

Only one of 16 possible combinations of game outcomes would keep the Dolphins from the postseason, but it’s not as unlikely as it might sound. If the Dolphins lose to the Bills, they’ll find themselves in the unenviable position of rooting for a few underdogs: the Bengals, Jaguars and Steelers. One of those teams would need to win for the Dolphins to advance.

The Patriots have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Jets have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Steelers are in the playoffs no matter what happens in their final game. They will be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. The Steelers are planning to rest some key starters against the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. But they may wind up hosting the Browns in the playoffs a week later.

The Ravens have won four straight and need only a win against the Bengals or a Browns or Colts loss to ensure a playoff berth.

The Browns are in a more precarious position than a team with their record usually is. If they win, they are in the playoffs, as a No. 5, 6 or 7 seed. But if they lose, they would need the Jaguars to beat the Colts, or — if the Colts win — they’d need a Dolphins win, a Ravens win and a Texans win.

The Bengals have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Only a series of unfortunate events would keep the Titans from the playoffs. When the Titans’ game begins, they’ll know whether they are at risk of elimination. If the Dolphins beat the Bills and the Ravens beat the Bengals in the 1 p.m. round of games, the Titans may find themselves playing for a postseason berth.

The Colts must win to make the playoffs. Luckily for them, their final game is against the Jaguars, who own the N.F.L.’s worst record. Yet the Colts still need help. Of the five 10-5 teams, the Colts are the only one for whom a win does not guarantee a postseason berth.

The Texans have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Jaguars have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Chiefs have clinched the No. 1 seed.

The Raiders have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Chargers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Broncos have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The N.F.C. East is home to four teams with losing records, yet one of them will host a playoff game. The situation is straightforward: the Football Team advances with a win over the Eagles.

The Cowboys can win the division if two games go their way. They must beat the Giants and hope the Eagles beat the Football Team on Sunday night.

Like the Cowboys, the Giants need to win and hope Washington loses.

The Eagles have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Packers control their chances for the No. 1 seed in the N.F.C. — and the bye week that accompanies it. A win or a Seahawks loss would guarantee it. The Packers can do no worse than the No. 3 seed, hosting the No 6 seed (probably the Cardinals, Rams or Bears).

The Bears can advance two ways: by beating the Packers (12-3) or with a Rams victory over the Cardinals (surely the more likely of the two scenarios).

The Vikings have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Saints are in the playoffs, probably as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed. If the Seahawks beat the 49ers, the Saints could get the No. 1 seed if they win and the Packers lose to the Bears.

The Bucs are in the playoffs, most likely as a No. 5 seed, visiting the N.F.C. East winner — Washington, the Cowboys or the Giants. It’s safe to say they will be favored in any such matchup.

The Panthers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Falcons have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Seahawks are in the playoffs, probably as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed. They do have an outside chance of getting the top spot, and the bye week that comes with it, but it would require two surprises in the form of Packers and Saints losses.

A win by the Rams would guarantee a playoff berth. A loss is not necessarily fatal. As long as the Bears lose to the Packers — who will be playing for the No. 1 seed — the Rams are in.

The Cardinals would advance with a victory over the Rams.

The 49ers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

How the Green Bay Packers Can Make the 2020 N.F.L. Playoffs Through Week 16

Likeliest Playoff Positions
End-of-Season Outcomes
Record Chance this happens Chance to make the playoffs
Division Standings
Record in
Common Games
Team Overall Div. Packers Opp.

Jan. 2, 2021 Updated 11:13 p.m. ET

The Packers control their chances for the No. 1 seed in the N.F.C. — and the bye week that accompanies it. A win or a Seahawks loss would guarantee it. The Packers can do no worse than the No. 3 seed, hosting the No 6 seed (probably the Cardinals, Rams or Bears).

The table below represents the Packers ’ remaining games. Pick a winner and see what happens to the Packers ’ playoff chances:

As you pick winners, the colors on some games will change, reflecting their relative importance for a Packers postseason berth.

Or explore other possibilities, like a first-round bye or a division title, right here:

The tables below represent every N.F.L. game remaining. Pick winners and explore which games matter most to the Packers ’ chances.

With 16 games remaining, there are about 65,536 different ways the N.F.L. regular season could end. How many of those put the Packers in the playoffs? Far too many to check by hand.

So we built this simulator. Most calculators force you to choose the winners of each remaining game. Here, you can choose the outcomes of just a few games and see how your team’s chances grow or shrink. (For more information about this simulator, check out our newly updated guide.)

We estimate odds by randomly simulating the remainder of the season thousands of times and counting how often the Packers make the playoffs .

If you don’t specify an outcome for a particular game, we use Sagarin ratings to estimate each team’s chances of winning. (For simplicity, we assume each game has an equally small chance of ending in a tie.)

This page is most useful for Packers fans, but you may use this tool to explore scenarios for any team on the playoff bubble.

The Packers have a 78% chance to get a first-round bye.

Here’s Packers’ Path to No. 1 Seed, Homefield Advantage

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The path to the No. 1 seed has broken wide open for the Green Bay Packers.

With the Packers’ sputtering victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday and the New Orleans’ Saints loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, here are the playoff standings and final opponents with two games to go. The top seven get in the playoffs and the No. 1 seeds gets a first-round bye and homefield advantage.

1. Green Bay: 11-3 (vs. Tennessee, at Chicago)

2. New Orleans: 10-4 (vs. Minnesota, at Carolina)

3. Seattle: 10-4 (vs. L.A. Rams, at San Francisco)

4. Washington: 6-8 (vs. Carolina, at Philadelphia)

5. L.A Rams: 9-5 (at Seattle, vs. Arizona)

6. Tampa Bay: 9-5 (at Detroit, vs. Atlanta)

7. Arizona: 8-6 (vs. San Francisco, at L.A. Rams)

8. Chicago: 7-7 (at Jacksonville, vs. Green Bay)

9. Minnesota: 6-8 (at New Orleans, at Detroit)

If Green Bay goes 2-0 with wins at home against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday night and at the Chicago Bears the following Sunday, it will be 13-3 and the No. 1 seed.

If Green Bay wins one game and winds up tied only with New Orleans at 12-4, it would get the No. 1 seed based on its Week 3 victory at the Saints.

Where it gets tricky is a three-team tiebreaker between the Packers, Saints and Seattle Seahawks. In that case, the Packers’ victory over New Orleans would not matter because all three teams didn’t play each other. The next tiebreaker is conference record. In that case, Green Bay’s specific results the next two weeks are what matters.

If Green Bay loses to Tennessee but beats Chicago in Week 17, it would finish 12-4 and 10-2 in the NFC. New Orleans would be 12-4 and 10-2 and Seattle would be 12-4 and 9-3. The Seahawks would be eliminated on conference record. At that point, the tiebreaker reverts to the top and the Packers would beat the Saints based on the head-to-head matchup.

In other words, the Green Bay-Tennessee game is irrelevant so long as the Packers beat the Bears.

If Green Bay beats Tennessee but loses to Chicago, it would finish 12-4 and 9-3 in the NFC. New Orleans would be 12-4 and 10-2 and Seattle would be 12-4 and 9-3. In this case, the Saints would get the No. 1 based on the best conference record. Who would be No. 2? With no head-to-head matchup and a tie in NFC games, the next tiebreaker would be common games. Seattle would win that by going 5-0 vs. Minnesota, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia while Green Bay went 4-1.

As the No. 3 seed, the Packers’ potential first-round matchup would be a rematch against Tampa Bay but at Lambeau Field.

If the Packers win both games, they will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. But what if they split their final two games? ]]>