Tough Packers Schedule Favorable By Comparison
If the playoffs were to start today, the Green Bay Packers (7-4) would be in as a wild card and take on the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) in Jerry-Land. After winning three games in twelve days, the Packers are clearly on an upswing, but face a challenging five-game gauntlet to ultimately decide their post-season fate. My contention is that if the Packers can get to ten wins, they'll be in the playoffs - plain and simple. A 9-7 record will require some luck and a leg up in the tiebreaker system over the other NFC teams battling for position.
It's impossible to figure out the tie breakers at this point because the NFC East will be lining up against each other quite often from here on out.
Knowing who the Packers face to round out the season, I checked out who the other teams in the mix have to play and found the results quite favorable for the Packers.
DALLAS COWBOYS (8-3): The Cowboys currently lead the NFC East, but in recent years have collapsed in December
@ NYG (6-5); San Diego (8-3); @ New Orleans (10-0); @ Washington (3-8); Philadelphia (7-4)
This is as difficult a five game stretch as you will find. If the Cowboys end up any better than 10-6, I'll be impressed. On the plus side, the Packers own the tie breaker with Dallas due to their head-to-head victory.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (7-4): If the playoffs began today, the Eagles would be in as the top wild card team
@ Atlanta (6-5); @ NYG (6-5); San Francisco (5-6); Denver (7-4); @ Dallas (8-3)
Tough sledding for the Eagles. Each team on their schedule is still in the discussion for a playoff berth, and they play two games against NFC East division rivals on the road.
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-5): After their Thanksgiving day loss to the Broncos, the Giants are on the outside of the playoffs looking in
Dallas (8-3); Philadelphia (7-4); @ Washington (3-8); Carolina (4-7); @ Minnesota (10-1)
Yuck! Three division games in a row. At least two of the three are at home. Minnesota will likely be battling New Orleans for home field throughout the playoffs. Barring injury and given a certain playoff bye, I expect the full Viking arsenal to be on the field.
ATLANTA FALCONS (6-5): On the outside looking in, but have done just enough to remain in the discussion
Philadelphia (7-4); New Orleans (10-0); @ NYJ (5-6); Buffalo (4-7); @ Tampa Bay (1-10)
If they can get through the next three games with one loss or fewer, the Falcons will really muddy up the waters in the NFC.
The east is a complete toss up and I'm not ready to annoint the Cowboys the division title. Because the NFC East teams play each other so often down the stretch, it will be very difficult for more than one team to catch fire and pull away. If there is a log jam at 10-6 between the Packers and a couple or few NFC East teams, the Packers will be in the playoffs via the rules of the wacky tie breaker system.
The Packers play two AFC teams (Baltimore and Pittsburgh), and three NFC teams (Chicago, Seattle and Arizona). Baltimore and Pittsburgh are still in the hunt, but losses to these teams would be far less damaging to the Packers when it comes down to tie breakers...if the Packers are to lose two more games, best case scenario is that they lose to Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
As for their NFC opponents, the Bears and Seahawks are done...nothing but pride to play for. I can't envision a scenario where Arizona can earn home field advantage or a first round bye...the Saints and Vikings are just too far out there. On top of that, I can't see them losing their lead in the NFC West either. Given this, the fragility of some of their star players, and the fact they could end up playing the Packers in the first round of the playoffs, I don't think the Cardinals will put their best foot forward against the Packers in the final game of the regular season.
It's all shaping up like candy and nuts.
Follow me on Twitter by clicking below: