Packers playoff scenarios: They can clinch this weekend - with a lot of help

Packers playoff scenarios entering Week 16
Packers playoff scenarios entering Week 16
Packers playoff scenarios entering Week 16
Posted at 2:14 AM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 08:55:33-05

The Green Bay Packers control their destiny in the chase for a playoff spot, but there are two ways they can make the playoffs - one of them including a possible clinching during Week 16 in a very complicated scenario.

1) Division title

The way they completely control their destiny - and the easiest way to a playoff berth - involves winning the NFC North championship.

Currently, the Detroit Lions (9-5) have a one-game lead on the Packers (8-6). However, Green Bay currently owns the direct head-to-head tiebreaker on Detroit.

If the Packers and Lions finish tied at the top of the NFC North, Green Bay would win the division by virtue of sweeping the season series.

Therefore: The ways the Packers can win the division
- Packers wins over Minnesota (12/24, 10 a.m. broadcast on 620 WTMJ) and at Detroit (1/1, also on 620 WTMJ)
- A Packers loss to Minnesota, a Lions loss to Dallas (12/26) and a Packers win at Detroit

2) Wild Card

This gets a lot more complicated, but could be a quicker way to clinching if the Packers get a LOT of help.

Right now, the Packers own the second Wild Card spot with numerous teams chasing them: Tampa Bay (8-6), Washington (7-6-1), Minnesota (7-7), Carolina and New Orleans (both 6-8).

A Packers win over Minnesota Saturday eliminates the Vikings, Panthers and Saints.

If Washington also loses to Chicago on Saturday (noon kickoff), they are eliminated as well with a Packers win.

That leaves Tampa Bay. If they also lose to New Orleans on Saturday (3:25 p.m. kickoff) following a Packers win Saturday, the worst that can happen for Green Bay is both teams finishing 9-7 at the end of the season.

With the way the Wild Card tiebreakers work:
- 1st tiebreaker, head-to-head: They never met this season.
- 2nd tiebreaker, conference record: They would both finish 7-5 in NFC games.
- 3rd tiebreaker, record in games with common opponents: They would both finish 3-2.

That sends it to the 4th tiebreaker: Strength of victory (overall record of the opponents each team defeated this year).

Right now, the Packers own a slight edge in that category, but if enough teams Tampa Bay defeated end up winning in Weeks 16 and 17 - and enough teams Green Bay defeated end up losing in that same time frame - the Buccaneers can catch up and surpass Green Bay in that tiebreaker.

This means the Packers will be fans of Atlanta, Cleveland (currently winless), Houston, Jacksonville and Los Angeles (Saturday), Denver (Sunday) and Detroit (Monday). Assuming the NFL counts a season sweep of a team twice in the strength of victory tiebreaker, wins by five of those teams will be enough to give Green Bay an insurmountable lead in that category even before Week 17.

That would clinch a Wild Card berth for the Packers by Monday - or even Saturday night.

Therefore: The way the Packers can clinch a Wild Card berth by the end of Week 16
- A Packers win over Minnesota, a Chicago win over Washington, a New Orleans win over Tampa Bay (all on Saturday) and a combination of five combined wins by Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville and Los Angeles during Week 16 this weekend.

In other words, by 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve (the end of the Cincinnati-Houston game), the Packers could - if a LOT goes right - get the best possible present from Santa Claus coming down Lambeau Field's chimney - an eighth-straight playoff berth, extending a team record.