The Green Bay Packers had a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. It was a lead that vaporized as the Bears came all the way back to tie the game. While you have to hate the way GB lost the lead, that they played well in the clutch is important, and that characteristic may yet make them a dangerous team.

The Packers still have two post-season options

Green Bay, at 8-6 heading into Week 16, still have two valid options for getting into the playoffs. They can get in by winning the NFC North or they can get in via a Wildcard. In the NFC North, they trail the Detroit Lions who have a record of 9-5.

However, Detroit plays in Week 16 at the Dallas Cowboys. Accordingly, the Lions' 9-5 record could fall to 9-6 soon. Meanwhile, the Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings in a tricky game, but one that should be easier. If both teams end up 9-6 after Week 16, then it would leave all to play for in Week 17 when they face one another at Ford Field in Detroit.

The potential for a tie between the two teams needs to be examined. For instance, what happens if both teams lose in Week 16? In that scenario, GB are 8-7 while the Packers are 9-6. If the Packers beat Detroit in Week 17, they both end up 9-7, but the Packers would have a 2-0 record against the Lions on the season. Therefore, GB would win the division by virtue of the first divisional tiebreaker, which emphasizes head-to-head records.

Green Bay's Wild-Card outlook

In the Wild-Card picture, the Packers currently sit as the 2nd team. The Packers can improve to 10-6, and it's possible that they can catch the 10-4 New York Giants if the Giants lose the remainder of their games. However, if the Packers finish 10-6, then they will win the division and not be in the Wild-Card race at all.

Tampa Bay are currently 8-6, the Minnesota Vikings are 7-7, and the Washington Redskins are 7-6-1 following a bad loss on Monday night. These are the teams that Green Bay fans want to lose in the weeks ahead. In the case of Minnesota, Green Bay can eliminate them from contention by defeating them next week.

If two teams have the same record after the season, the first tiebreaker in the Wild-Card system is head-to-head records. Washington own a win over GB, and so does Minnesota. If the Minnesota Vikings beat GB in Week 16, they will be 2-0 against the Packers and owners of the tiebreaker between the two teams. If the Atlanta Falcons are overtaken in the NFC South, and they enter the Wild-Card race, then Green Bay loses to them on tiebreakers too. For that reason, I think GB fans want to see Atlanta win on Saturday and stay out of the Wild Card picture. Currently, GB have the tiebreaker edge over Tampa Bay. However, it's really close and subject to change in the two weeks ahead.

But because Green Bay host Minnesota next week, a struggling team, the Packers' playoff chances look very good.

Furthermore, they have the double option still open - they could win their division or the 2nd Wild Card. The following Week-16 games are the ones Packer fans should either watch or scoreboard watch:

  • Vikings at Packers, 1 pm ET on December 24th on FOX (want Packers to win)
  • Redskins at Bears, 1 pm ET on December 24th on FOX (want Bears to win)
  • Falcons at Panthers, 1 pm ET on December 24th on FOX (want Panthers to win)
  • Buccaneers at Saints, 4:25 pm ET on December 24th on FOX (want Saints to win)
  • Lions at Cowboys, 8:30 pm ET on December 26th on FOX (want Cowboys to win)
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