Here's How the Packers Can Still Earn a First Round Bye in the Playoffs

Last season, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy became the fourth head coach in NFL history to lead a team to the postseason in eight consecutive seasons. McCarthy joined legendary coaches Tom Landry and Chuck Noll, alongside New England’s Bill Belichick.

This season, it’s going to take a lot of work for McCarthy to extend the streak to nine straight seasons of postseason play.

Sunday’s loss against the Steelers narrowed the Packers’ margin of error. Football Outsiders gives Green Bay a five percent chance of reaching the postseason heading into this Sunday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There is a silver lining – if the Packers were to win the remaining five of their games, and with a number of games breaking Green Bay’s way, they could not only win the NFC North but also secure a first-round bye.

The NFC playoff picture, as of today

Here’s how things stand in the NFC heading into Week 13:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
  4. New Orleans Saints (8-3)
  5. Carolina Panthers (8-3)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (7-4)
  8. Detroit Lions (6-5)
  9. Green Bay Packers (5-6)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
  11. Washington Redskins (5-6)
  12. Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

It’s an intimidating list ahead of the Packers, especially because Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans and Minnesota all currently hold head-to-head tiebreakers over Green Bay. However, the Packers can still manage to secure the second seed with five wins and a lot of help.

How the Packers can earn a first-round bye in the playoffs

Let’s examine what results need to happen each week in order for Green Bay to finish second in the conference:

Week 13:

  • Green Bay (home) defeats Tampa Bay
  • Atlanta (home) defeats Minnesota
  • New Orleans (home) defeats Carolina

Week 14:

  • Green Bay defeats Cleveland (home)
  • Minnesota defeats Carolina (home)
  • Atlanta (home) defeats New Orleans
  • Philadelphia defeats Los Angeles (home)

Week 15:

  • Green Bay defeats Carolina (home)
  • Cincinnati defeats Minnesota (home)
  • Los Angeles defeats Seattle (home)
  • Tampa Bay (home) defeats Atlanta

Week 16:

  • Green Bay (home) defeats Minnesota
  • Atlanta defeats New Orleans (home)
  • Tennessee (home) defeats Los Angeles

Week 17:

  • Green Bay defeats Detroit (home)
  • Carolina defeats Atlanta (home)
  • Chicago defeats Minnesota (home)
  • Tampa Bay defeats New Orleans (home)
  • San Francisco defeats Los Angeles (home)

Additionally, the following conditions also need to occur:

  • Detroit must lose at least one of the following games: Week 13 at Baltimore, Week 14 at Tampa Bay, Week 15 against Chicago or Week 16 at Cincinnati
  • Seattle must lose at least two of the following games: Week 13 against Philadelphia, Week 14 at Jacksonville, Week 16 at Dallas, or Week 17 against Arizona

Assuming all of these conditions are met, the 10-6 Packers would hold the tiebreaker over 10-6 Minnesota and win the NFC North and hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over both 10-6 Carolina and 10-6 Seattle to earn the second seed and a first-round bye.

Got all that?

Gary Zilavy