Notebook: Playoff Scenarios Secondary To Winning


The Packers, fresh off beating the Vikings last week, now need Minnesota to win this week for help in the playoff chase.

The Packers aren't concerning themselves with all the various scenarios that could get them a playoff berth primarily for one reason - nothing will matter unless they win at Chicago.

"We need to really focus on beating the Bears," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I'm not naïve to the fact that our players are aware of everything around us, but our focus needs to be to win that football game on Sunday night."

Some players claim to know how the playoff scenarios shape up and some don't, but either way the Packers (7-8) will know their status when their game begins on Sunday.

The first key result will come Saturday night, when the Giants (7-8) play the Redskins. If the Redskins win, the Packers will need one of the following three things to happen Sunday afternoon in order to be playing for a playoff berth that night:

*The Rams (at 7-8, the only team that can beat the Packers in a head-to-head tiebreaker because of the 23-20 decision on Oct. 8 game at Lambeau Field) must lose to the Vikings; Or

*The Panthers (7-8) must beat the Saints, or the Falcons (7-8) must beat the Eagles, pulling either victor into a three-way tie with the Packers and Rams, a tiebreaker the Packers win based on best overall conference record at 7-5.

But if the Giants win on Saturday night, the Packers' chances become much slimmer. In that case, should the Packers beat the Bears, both Green Bay and New York would be tied with 8-8 overall records, 7-5 conference records, and 1-4 marks against common opponents, invoking the "strength of victory" tiebreaker, and the Packers trail the Giants there by a considerable margin.

In the simplest terms, strength of victory is determined by the total number of wins of defeated opponents. In order to overtake the Giants, the Packers would need to gain seven games on the Giants in strength of victory from Sunday's other results.

That means all of the following must happen for the Packers to win that tiebreaker: All the teams the Packers have beaten this season (the Lions, the Vikings, the Dolphins, the Cardinals and the 49ers) must win their games, while the remaining teams the Giants have beaten (the Panthers, the Buccaneers and the Texans) must lose.

That's a total of eight games that must go Green Bay's way. If any one of those games goes the other way, the Packers can't edge the Giants for the final playoff spot.

Powerball tickets, anyone?

Knowledge is power, maybe

While the Packers insist they won't let the early results on Sunday affect them when they take the field, it will be interesting to see if playing for a playoff berth will crank up the enthusiasm in any way.

{sportsad300}Defensive end Aaron Kampman recalled the regular-season finale of his rookie season, in 2002, when the Packers were playing at the New York Jets in a late afternoon game. The Packers were playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC while the Jets were on the AFC playoff bubble. Then the Jets found out at halftime that if they won, they were in the playoffs, and they came out of the locker room and turned a 14-10 lead into a 42-17 blowout victory.

"I tell you what, it just energized their team," Kampman said. "They took it to us pretty good."

One difference Sunday night is the Packers will be on the road, whereas the Jets were at home with their playoff lives at stake. But another difference is that the Bears, who have secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, won't have any playoff implications on the line. So it's difficult to predict how everything is going to play out.

"This game is all about us," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "They're in. Their future is pretty much set in stone. Ours is still pretty much up in the air. It's up to us.

"All you ever ask for is a chance, and that's what we have at this point."

Injury update

Tight end David Martin (ribs), safety Atari Bigby (hamstring) and linebacker Abdul Hodge (shoulder) all are questionable on this week's injury report, but all three practiced on Wednesday.

Woodson (shoulder), running back Ahman Green (knee) and receiver Donald Driver (shoulder) all missed practice, but all three are probable. Woodson and Green have been sitting out Wednesday practices for much of the season to help their bodies heal, while Driver has been missing some practice time in recent weeks as well with his injuries, but all three are expected to play on Sunday.

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