How Packers Can Make Longshot of Winning NFC North a Reality

Breaking news: Packers head coach kills the bar man in a …… ….

After 12 games and 13 weeks of the season, the Green Bay Packers are still alive. We’ve covered their chances to make the playoffs as a wild card, but another scenario still in play is the opportunity to win the NFC North.

Heading into Week 14, they have a 71 percent probability of making the postseason, but only a three percent chance of winning their division, according to The New York Times’ model. However, those odds could skyrocket in the next couple of weeks with a few key games going their way.

First and foremost, the Packers need to take care of their own business. They play at the New York Giants on Monday Night Football this week, and their odds to win the division double to a whopping six percent if they win that game.

The rest of their schedule features very winnable games at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at the Carolina Panthers, at the Minnesota Vikings, and at Lambeau Field against the Chicago Bears to conclude the season. The Week 17 contest against the Vikings will be their most challenging, but it’s unknown who will be the quarterback for a team that could be on the outside looking in of a wild card spot.

Regardless of the Lions’ games, the Packers’ odds to win the NFC North skyrockets to 20 percent if they go 5-0. That would give them an 11-6 record to finish the season. However, just one loss and their chances take a huge dip. It’s imperative they win out to have any real chance at winning the division.

Now to the Lions. Detroit finishes the season by playing in Chicago, vs the Denver Broncos, at the Vikings, at the Cowboys, and at home against Minnesota. Those are four very winnable games, with the fifth being a tough contest against Dallas. However, those are also four games against quality opponents (not including the Bears, who gave Detroit trouble in their first matchup).

In order for the Lions to tie the Packers’ 11-6 record (assuming Green Bay can win out), they need to lose three of those five games. That leads us to a tie between the two teams and a look at the NFL’s tiebreaking procedures. Here are the top three procedures for a divisional tie:

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

Since the two teams split their head-to-head matchup, we move on to number two. Detroit is currently 2-1 in the North with three games remaining, and the Packers are 2-2 with two games left. Assuming (again) the Packers win out, they’d finish at 4-2, which means at least one of the Lions’ losses has to be against a divisional team.

If they both finish at 4-2, we move on to the third tiebreaker, the best win-loss-tied percentage in common games. The common games include the Bears (twice), the Vikings (twice), the Chiefs, the Falcons, the Panthers, the Buccaneers, the Raiders, the Chargers, the Saints, and the Broncos.

Detroit has gone 8-0 with games against Minnesota (twice), Chicago and Denver remaining. Green Bay has gone 4-4 with contests against Tampa Bay, Carolina, Minnesota and Chicago left. Therefore, if this tie-breaker were to go in the Packers’ favor, the Lions would have to lose every game except the Cowboys’ one while Green Bay would go 4-1 with their lone loss against the Giants. Clear as mud?

That would then take us to the fourth tie-breaker which is conference record. The Lions are 6-2 while the Packers are 4-3. If the Lions go 1-4 with their sole victory over the Cowboys, they would finish 7-5. Assuming the above scenario for the Packers, they would finish 8-4 and win the fourth tiebreaker!

Backing up two steps, the most likely way for the Packers to win the division is to go 5-0 while having the Lions go 1-4 with any combination of wins and losses. See why it’s only a three percent chance? Crazier things have happened.

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