Packers Playoff Clinching Scenarios for 2016 Week 16

For those of you who love the Packers and numbers, here are the Green Bay Packers playoff clinching scenarios for Week 16 of the 2016 NFL season.

First of all, it is important to note that if the Packers win out, they will win the NFC North and be, at worst, the 4th seed. If the Giants, Seahawks, and Falcons lose out or have ties and a few other outcomes, the Packers could still be as high as the 2nd seed. One more win by the Seahawks clinches the 2nd seed for them.

The Packers can clinch a playoff berth this week if all of the following events occur:

  1. Packers win at Minnesota Vikings (which eliminates Vikings, Saints, and Panthers from playoff contention)
  2. Washington Redskins loss or tie at Chicago Bears (which eliminates Redskins from playoff contention)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss at New Orleans Saints (which ensures that Packers will, at worst, tie the Bucs’ record)
  4. Atlanta Falcons win or tie at Carolina Panthers (which would also eliminate Carolina from playoff contention plus clinch the NFC South for Atlanta, ensuring that the Packers don’t have to go up against Atlanta in a wild card tiebreaker, which they would lose based on head to head)
  5. Packers clinch strength of victory (SOV) tiebreaker over Tampa Bay

Without laying odds or otherwise using ELO or other methods of calculating odds, the pure probability that the first four events happen (while neglecting the very small probabilities that ties will occur) is roughly 6.25% – So you’re saying there’s a chance…

In this case, I took a look at all games that would affect this scenario so you know which teams to root for this weekend.

Assuming outcomes 1 through 4 above occur as detailed, and again assuming no ties (because they are rare and it would take two or three to actually affect the SOV calculation enough to matter), I tabulated the entries for wins and losses for each team Green Bay and Tampa Bay beat (9 wins against 8 teams each). This includes the assumption that Green Bay beats Minnesota (hurts GB’s SOV) and Tampa Bay loses to the Saints in Week 16 (Which helps TB’s SOV), while Green Bay loses to Detroit (which actually helps GB’s SOV) and Tampa Bay beats the Panthers (which hurts TB’s SOV) in Week 17 to force the record tie. It also includes the assumptions that Washington loses to the Bears (which helps GB’s SOV more than TB’s SOV) and Atlanta beats Carolina (which hurts TB’s SOV) in Week 16.

Once those assumptions are entered for this scenario, I then calculated the worst possible outcomes for Green Bay in Week 17 (to see what they must overcome). First, I removed the games that have no impact on either team’s SOV, either because both teams beat them or because the outcome adds 1 win and 1 loss to the the calculation. Thus, the following Week 17 games have no impact on this calculation:

  • ATL-NO
  • KC-SAN

Minnesota-Chicago has a minor impact – either outcome adds or subtracts the same net losses because both teams beat Chicago but the Packers beat them twice. However, a Minnesota win adds a couple thousandths of points to TB’s SOV. Thus, I assumed the MIN win in Week 17

I then assume all unique teams TB beat win and all unique teams GB beat lose in Week 17:

  • SF over SEA (adds 1 loss to both TB and GB SOV but 1 win for TB SOV)
  • IND over JAX
  • WAS over NYG
  • DAL over PHI
  • TEN over HOU

Factoring these Week 17 assumptions in with the Week 16 assumptions we already made, the combined won-loss-tied records for TB and GB would actually be tied at 62-78-1 (both teams beat Seattle, which has the tie on its record).

This leaves six Week 16 games whose outcome was not already assumed above. To clinch the tiebreaker, four of the six games would need to break the Packers’ way. At least four of the following outcomes must happen:

  • LA over SF (anything could happen here)
  • DEN over KC (unlikely)
  • CLE over SD (doubtful)
  • JAX over TEN (doubtful)
  • DET over DAL (possible, Dallas might be resting starters)
  • HOU over CIN (probable)

Unfortunately for the Packers, I think only two or three of these are likely. I doubt Denver, Cleveland, and Jacksonville will win their games.

If the Packers have three go their way, however, they at least guarantee they can’t LOSE the SOV tiebreaker to TB. I think Green Bay would probably win SOS if SOV was tied at the end of the season. It is also pretty unlikely that the 49ers beat Seattle (unless Seattle is resting starters) and Dallas beats Philly (Dallas clinched the 1st seed tonight and probably will rest starters in Week 17) in Week 17, so the Packers would probably win the SOV tiebreaker anyway as long as two of the six games above go their way in Week 16. And again, this is all assuming they don’t win out to win the NFC North or end up a game ahead of the Bucs.

To Make a Long Story Short…

This weekend, Packer fans are rooting for the following teams to win:

  • Packers (durrr…)
  • Bears
  • Saints
  • Falcons
  • Rams
  • Broncos
  • Browns
  • Jaguars
  • Lions (assuming the Packers win)
  • Texans

Of course, a Packers loss and Lions win allows the Lions to clinch the NFC North. Thus, we’ll obviously be rooting against the Lions on Monday if the Packers do happen to lose on Saturday. That won’t completely eliminate us from playoff contention, but we’d be back to needing a lot of help unless the Bucs and Redskins both lose as well.

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