The Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 seed in the NFC after 14 weeks and have a few relatively straightforward paths to clinching the top spot in the conference over the final three weeks.
The Packers haven’t been the No. 1 seed since 2011. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who took over as the starter in 2008, has started four NFC title games but never one in Green Bay, thanks in large part to the Packers’ inability to get the top seed over the last 10 years.
Rodgers is desperate to change that. This season provides a new and exciting opportunity for the Packers to sit atop the conference come season’s end, which is especially important this year.
Not only does the top seed get homefield advantage, but the No. 1 seed also gets a first-round bye, and only the two top seeds in each conference will get a week off in the postseason under the new playoff format.
So, how do the Packers clinch the No. 1 seed and open up the possibility of playing an NFC title game at home?
Obviously, they can win their final three games. The Packers and New Orleans Saints are currently tied at 10-3, but Matt LaFleur’s team has the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Saints cannot pass the Packers even if both teams win out.
Another plausible scenario: If the Saints lose to the Kansas City Chiefs this week, the Packers can win games against the Carolina Panthers (Week 15) and Chicago Bears (Week 17) and clinch. Even with a loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 16, the Packers would be the No. 1 seed.
Other less likely scenarios exist for the Packers, but losing to either of the NFC teams left on the schedule would complicate the tiebreaker process. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams are 9-4, making it possible one of the two will finish 12-4. The Packers don’t get the No. 1 seed in three-way tie scenarios if they lose another NFC game.
Looking at the schedules, it’s possible the Washington Football Team (vs. Seahawks, Week 15), Minnesota Vikings (at Saints, Week 16), Arizona Cardinals (at Rams, Week 17), or San Francisco 49ers (vs. Seahawks) could give the Packers a big hand over the final three weeks.
According to the New York Times playoff simulator, the Packers have a 52 percent chance of getting the No. 1 seed after 14 weeks, making them a favorite over the Saints (35 percent). The Rams (eight percent) and Seahawks (five percent) are the only other teams with a realistic path to the top seed.
The Packers must now protect what they have. The journey to No. 1 begins Saturday night with a visit from the Panthers.
Green Bay Packers (10-3)
New Orleans Saints (10-3)
Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
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Published: 2020-12-15 01:28:47
Tags: #Packers #paths #clinching #seed #NFC