The NFC is a mess, pure and simple. An 8-8 team is probably going to make the playoffs, and after the Packers' win over the hapless Lions yesterday, everyone in Wisconsin is crazy over the fact that the Packers could be that team.
Well I wanted to know exactly what it would take for the Packers to win the privelage of bowing out to the Cowboys or Saints in the first round. Obviously, they're going to have to win their final two games against the Vikings and the Bears. That's a big enough hurdle, but the help they would need after that is not as much as you would think. I couldn't find any step-by-step map of what needs to happen, so I'm going to go ahead and put one out there on the ol' world wide web for Packers fans that were wondering the same thing. So here's what needs to happen for my predictions to look good (not as implausible as you might think):
1. Packers must beat the Vikings and the Bears.
2. St. Louis must lose EITHER to the Redskins at home, or the Vikings on the road.
3. Atlanta must lose EITHER to the Panthers at home, or the Eagles on the road.
4. Seattle must win their division (either a Seahawks win or a 49ers loss would clinch this).
5. The tricky part of the equation is the New York Giants. They have a game at home against New Orleans, and a game in Washington. If they lose both (and all the above happens) the Packers play in January. If they split the games, the Packers and Giants would come down to a tie-breaker. They didn't play each other this season, and their conference records would be identical. The next tiebreaker is common opponents. Thus, if the Giants' win comes against New Orleans, they play on. If they lose to the Saints and beat the Redskins, however, it will come down to strength of victory, which is a total toss-up because it depends on how 15 different teams finish their season.
There you go. A long shot? Yes, but not as long as I would have thought. But the fact that the Packers are playing a significant game in the 16th week of the season is more than I expected. And I know Packers and Bears fans alike would love that last game of the season to be meaningful. Best of all, banking on Eli Manning to choke is not the worst position to be in.