Minnesota’s Loss Not All Good News for Packers
The good news on Monday night: The Seahawks beat the Vikings.
The bad news on Monday night: The Vikings lost to the Seahawks.
With Seattle’s 37-30 victory, the Green Bay Packers (9-3) are a game ahead of Minnesota (8-4) in the NFC North. With that, the Packers have a strong grasp on the division lead. Even if the Vikings beat the Packers in Week 16 and the teams end the season in a tie, Green Bay would hold the tiebreaker edge based on division records. At the moment, the Packers are 3-0 in the division and the Vikings are 1-2, the difference being Minnesota’s loss at Green Bay in Week 2 and its loss at Chicago in Week 4.
Packers 31, Giants 13
A division championship guarantees a wild-card weekend home game. At the moment, that would be No. 6 Minnesota at No. 3 Green Bay.
On the other hand, a Vikings victory might have been a good thing for the Packers if the goal is a first-round bye rather than a first-round home game.
Through Week 13, New Orleans (10-2) is the No. 1 seed and Seattle (10-2) leap-frogged San Francisco (10-2) to be the No. 2 seed. For the Packers to earn a first-round bye and a divisional-round home game, they’ll need to catch the Saints or Seahawks and win a tiebreaker. That won’t be easy.
First, it probably will require a running of the table. The Packers host Washington (3-9) and Chicago (6-6) before going to Minnesota (8-4) and Detroit (3-8-1). Clearly, the Monday night game against the Vikings will be the largest hurdle but, if you’re a member of the Packers, you believe you will win that game.
Next, either New Orleans or Seattle must lose a game. New Orleans hosts San Francisco and Indianapolis and finishes at Tennessee and Carolina. Seattle plays at the Rams and Carolina and finishes with home games against Arizona and San Francisco. Tiebreakers are based on conference record. Green Bay is 6-2 (and running the table would make it 10-2), Seattle is 7-1 (its final four games are conference matchups) and New Orleans is 8-2 (with two conference games remaining). New Orleans beat Seattle in Week 3.
Based on closing schedules, Green Bay’s best path to a first-round bye might have been Minnesota beating Seattle. If that had happened, San Francisco would be No. 1 today but vulnerable to tumbling behind Green Bay because of a closing schedule of at New Orleans, home against Atlanta and the Rams, and a return trip to Seattle.
“We’re right in the mix where we want to be, playing meaningful games in December,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said last week. “But I think we’ve got to play a little bit better moving forward if we want to get to where we want to go. This team has obviously a lot of goals. It starts with the North and everything kind of opens up from there. The key is for us, we just have to stay healthy, but we have to play a little bit better in all three phases. Offensively, I’ve got to take the lead and get hot in December here and we’ve got to start finding ways to get the ball to our guys all the time, and then the defense has to do their part and special teams has to play well. If we do those things, I like the talent of our football team, I like the spirit and chemistry, and I think we’ve got a chance to be in the mix.”