Packers' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 15

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2021

Packers' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 15

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    With the NFL Playoffs expanding by one more team in each conference, the No. 1 seed is more important than ever. 

    Only the top team in each conference will have the luxury of watching the first weekend of playoff games from home. Right now, that team is the Green Bay Packers. At 10-3, they are in the driver's seat to have the advantage of rest going into the playoffs. 

    The work isn't done yet, though. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals are right there at 10-3 with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams just a game off the pace at 9-4. 

    The Packers have to take care of business against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. But that doesn't mean fans can't do some scoreboard watching over the weekend. 

    Here are three results that would really help out Green Bay provided Aaron Rodgers and Co. best the Ravens on Sunday. 

Lions over Cardinals

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    Alright, so we're starting with the least likely outcome here.

    Arizona has been one of the top teams in the league all year. The Detroit Lions, well, they've been in the league and that's about where the positives end. 

    But if we are looking for reasons to believe the Lions could shock the world each team's recent performances could give a glimmer of hope. 

    The Cardinals have cooled a bit recently. They are 2-2 in their last four games and have split their two games since the bye week when Kyler Murray returned to the lineup. It also appears they will be without DeAndre Hopkins. 

    The star receiver is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee sprain. 

    Meanwhile, the Lions are just two weeks removed from their only win of the year over the Minnesota Vikings

    If they could do enough to outscore Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, maybe they can find a way to put up enough points to beat the Cardinals offense without Hopkins. 

Giants over Cowboys

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    This one is a little more doable but not by much. ESPN's FPI gives the Giants about a 30 percent chance of winning the game. 

    The Cowboys are in a commanding lead of the NFC East with a 3-0 record in the division. They have all but locked up a playoff spot and have the ability to push for the top seed. 

    They do have a matchup with the Cardinals in Week 17 that could have major No. 1 seed implications but for now, the Packers should be hoping they get tripped up by a divisional foe. 

    Unfortunately, the Giants are in a position where they'd probably just like this season to be over. They are 4-9, starting Mike Glennon at quarterback, have Leonard Williams and Sterling Shepard listed as questionable and are combing off a drubbing at the hands of the Chargers last week. 

    If there's any glimmer of hope here it's that the Cowboys haven't separated themselves from inferior teams two weeks in a row now. They beat the Saints by 10 and the Washington Football Team took them to the wire in the fourth quarter nearly coming back from down 24-0 at the half. 

    An upset loss to the Giants would likely take the Cowboys out of the race for the top seed altogether. 

Saints over Buccaneers

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    Here's where the Packers have the most hope to get some help this week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be the biggest threat to take the No. 1 seed and have the easiest remaining schedule. 

    But the Saints are likely the best team that could help the Packers this week. 

    New Orleans still has playoff aspirations of its own. The NFC South club is one of the five teams in the NFC vying for the final wildcard spot at 6-7. A win over the Bucs would be huge in their quest to make the postseason. 

    It also helps they've already beat the Bucs once. The Saints defense picked off Tom Brady twice and Trevor Siemian came in at quarterback to finish the game and win 36-27. 

    Things will certainly be different this time. Head coach Sean Payton has tested positive for COVID-19, Taysom Hill is now the quarterback and the team is now 6-7 whereas they were 4-2 going into the first meeting. 

    Hill and Alvin Kamara are going to have to find a way to attack the Bucs dominant run defense to pull off an upset here but it's still the best shot the Packers have at getting some help this weekend.