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Vikings' magic number is 3 as Packers free fall into the abyss

The clock is ticking before the Vikings celebrate an NFC North championship for the first time since 2017 and only the fifth time since Aaron Rodgers was named starter in 2008.
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The Green Bay Packers have a 5% chance to make the playoffs, according to the newest odds from FiveThirtyEight following the Titans' win at Lambeau Field Thursday night. 

Since Aaron Rodgers took over for Brett Favre in 2008, this is the earliest the Packers have had their playoff hopes on life support. Green Bay went 6-10 in Rodgers' rookie season and then made the playoffs every year from 2009 to 2016. They were en route to the playoffs in 2017 until Rodgers was hit hard by Anthony Barr and broke his collarbone. 

They missed the playoffs again in 2018 and fired Mike McCarthy, replacing him with Matt LaFleur, who guided the Packers to three straight 13-win seasons (2019, 2020 and 2021). The expectations for 2022 were the same, but the Packers have been miserable from the start and now sit at 4-7, the Vikings almost out of view at 8-1. 

If the Vikings beat the Cowboys on Sunday to improve to 9-1, the Packers will be six games back in the loss column with six games to go. They would need to win out and hope the Vikings win no more than two games rest of the way to tie for the division lead. 

For the Vikings, their magic number is down to three. Any combination of Vikings wins and Packers/Bears/Lions losses equaling three will eliminate all of them from the NFC North.  

The Packers' remaining schedule:

  • at Philadelphia Eagles
  • at Chicago Bears
  • vs Los Angeles Rams
  • at Miami Dolphins
  • vs Minnesota Vikings
  • vs Detroit Lions

A win for the Vikings over the Cowboys and the magic number is two, meaning the Vikings could eliminate the Packers from the North as soon as next week when they host the Patriots Thanksgiving night and the Packers play at Soldier Field against the Bears. 

For a shot at the No. 7 seed, the Packers have to catch the 49ers (5-4), Commanders (5-5), Falcons (4-6) and Cardinals (4-6). That doesn't seem as impossible, but their 5% playoff odds suggest otherwise.