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Packers can clinch playoff spot this week

Here are the Week 15 matchups that factor into Green Bay’s playoff fortunes


GREEN BAY—It's back!

It's a feature we started late last season called "Path to the playoffs" that takes a look at all of the week's NFL games that could have an impact on the Packers' playoff fortunes.

Since this is the first week the Packers (10-3) could actually clinch a playoff spot, now is as good a time as any to begin the discussion for 2014.

Yes, the Packers can clinch an NFC playoff spot this week. They need to beat Buffalo, have Philadelphia beat Dallas, and clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

With strength-of-victory almost certainly to end in Green Bay's favor – heading into this week's games, the Packers' vanquished foes have a collective winning percentage of .458, while the Cowboys' is just .371 – there's no need to worry about that potential complication.

So, if the Packers defeat the Bills and you want the Packers to secure no worse than a wild card now, root for the Eagles to beat the Cowboys in the NFC East showdown on Sunday night.

Of course, the Packers have designs on bigger things than a wild-card spot. First and foremost is an NFC North title.

With a one-game lead on Detroit (9-4), but having lost to the Lions back in Week 3, the Packers will need to have a two-game lead on Detroit before the Lions visit Lambeau Field in Week 17 in order to clinch the division title without having to beat the Lions.

In that case, rooting for Minnesota to beat Detroit would get Green Bay another step closer to a fourth straight division crown.

As far as playoff seeds go, the Packers control their own destiny for one of two first-round byes if they win out. In order to get the No. 1 seed, they'll need the Cardinals to lose one more game. Arizona beat St. Louis on Thursday night, so the Packers can only maintain their hold on the No. 2 spot this week.

The other NFC game that factors into Green Bay's potential playoff scenarios is San Francisco at Seattle. The Seahawks (9-4) are one game behind the Packers but won the head-to-head meeting back in Week 1.

That means if the Seahawks and Packers are both division champions or wild cards, Seattle would get a higher seed than Green Bay if the Seahawks just match the Packers' record. The higher seed would get to host a postseason game between the two.

So, rooting for the 49ers to beat the Seahawks would enhance the Packers' possible playoff seed, and increase the chances that a rematch of Week 1 in January would take place at Lambeau Field.

For all the Packers-Bills preview headlines, click here.

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