GREEN BAY – It's possible the Packers could take the field Sunday night with a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs, and there's one other game that matters in that quest.
By the time Green Bay (12-3) and Minnesota (7-8) kick off in prime time at Lambeau Field, the Packers will know the result of the Arizona (10-5) at Dallas (11-4) game being played in Week 17's late afternoon window.
The Cowboys remain the biggest threat in the Packers' pursuit of the conference's top spot due to Dallas having just one loss all season against NFC competition. Green Bay must finish with a better record than Dallas in order to get the No. 1 seed, plus the playoff bye and home-field advantage that go with it. A tie for best record would give the top spot to Dallas based on the conference record tiebreaker.
So it comes down to this:
If the Cowboys lose, the Packers would have a chance to nail down the top seed Sunday night.
If the Cowboys win, the Packers would need to beat the Vikings in order to stay in the top spot and be in position to keep it through next week's regular-season finales.
So, after multiple weeks of rooting against Arizona, which held the top spot in the NFC three weeks ago but has now lost three in a row, it's time to cheer for the Cardinals to knock off the Cowboys and give the Packers a chance to secure the No. 1 seed early.
As for the other 11-4 teams in the NFC, the Buccaneers and Rams, they would lose any tiebreaker with the Packers for playoff positioning, as Green Bay has a better conference record than Tampa Bay and beat Los Angeles head-to-head.
But it wouldn't hurt for the Packers to get some extra breathing room over these final two weeks, so with Tampa Bay at the N.Y. Jets (4-11) and the L.A. Rams at Baltimore (8-7), root for the Jets to beat the Bucs and for the Ravens to defeat the Rams.
There's really nothing else in Week 17 that materially affects the Packers as it relates to playoff positioning. The only other consideration would be if Green Bay fans would like to see the Packers officially eliminate the NFC North-rival Vikings from playoff contention on Sunday night.
Minnesota remains in the hunt for one of the last two wild-card berths in the NFC, but the current front-runners for those spots are Philadelphia and San Francisco, both 8-7 and one game ahead of the Vikings.
If the Eagles beat Washington and the 49ers beat the Texans, then the Packers would take the field Sunday night with a chance to, in effect, end the Vikings' season.