Packers can clinch NFC North or playoff spot on Sunday

Green Bay on verge of second straight division title


GREEN BAY – It's Week 14, and the Packers have some clinch scenarios at hand in their quest to make the postseason for the second straight year under Head Coach Matt LaFleur.

At 9-3, Green Bay has a three-game lead in the NFC North with four to play, so the Packers could wrap up the division as soon as Sunday.

Even if they don't get that, they could still secure a playoff berth with some help elsewhere.

Here's the rundown:

To clinch the NFC North, Green Bay needs to beat Detroit (5-7) and have Minnesota (6-6) lose to Tampa Bay (7-5). That would end the division race.

For those worried about the Buccaneers catching the Packers and their head-to-head victory over Green Bay factoring into the playoff seeding, that's unlikely to come into play. Tampa Bay trails New Orleans in the NFC South by three games with four left, and if the best the Buccaneers can do is a wild card while the Packers are a division champion, Green Bay would get the higher seed regardless.

Others might be eyeing Minnesota's upcoming Week 16 game against New Orleans, wanting the Vikings to stay in the hunt long enough to be playing for something on Christmas to help the Packers claim the No. 1 overall seed. But again, that shouldn't really be a concern. One loss this week won't knock the Vikings out of the wild-card chase.

So don't overthink it – root for the Buccaneers to beat the Vikings and push the Packers toward the division crown.

If the Vikings win and deny the Packers the NFC North for now, Green Bay can still clinch a playoff spot with a win and either a loss by the Cardinals or a win by the Seahawks.

Arizona (6-6) travels to face the N.Y. Giants (5-7), who are fighting to win the NFC East, but the division champion there will have no bearing on the Packers' playoff seeding as long as Green Bay wins one more game.

This is a simple one, pull for the Giants to down the Cardinals.

The Seattle scenario isn't so simple, though. Some convoluted machinations involving potential tiebreaker scenarios down the road would give the Packers a playoff spot with a win and a Seahawks win.

But don't get confused. The Packers have other ways to clinch a playoff spot, as already outlined, and there will be more in the coming weeks if Green Bay has to wait.

It's more important to consider the possibility of the Seahawks winning the NFC West and fighting with the Packers for playoff positioning as the regular season winds down. Losses by the Seahawks will be of greater benefit in the final analysis. So as the N.Y. Jets (0-12) head to Seattle (8-4), cheer for the Jets to upset the Seahawks.

Last but far from least regarding the games to follow this week is New Orleans (10-2) at Philadelphia (3-8-1).

The Saints currently hold the top spot in the NFC, and only the No. 1 seed will get a playoff bye. Courtesy of the Packers' head-to-head win over the Saints back in Week 3, Green Bay would get that No. 1 seed if it can finish in a two-way tie with New Orleans for the top spot.

So, as rookie QB Jalen Hurts makes the first NFL start of his career for Philly, root for the Eagles to knock off the Saints.


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