Things looked incredibly bleak for the Packers at 3:45 ET. The Giants were leading Philadelphia by 21 points and Tampa Bay had just taken a late 20-17 lead over Detroit. Had those two scores held up, Green Bay would’ve needed a win at New England to control its own destiny. A loss would’ve forced the Packers to win out and then pray for some unlikely help. Instead, Philadelphia scored 28 points in the final 7:29 to stun the Giants and Detroit kicked a tying field goal with no time left and then beat Tampa Bay in OT. And while these two finishes probably don’t quite measure up to “The Miracle on Ice,” they come awfully close if you’re a Packers fan.
After today, the Packers once again control their own destiny. Regardless of what happens tonight, Green Bay is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs by winning its final two home games. A 10-6 record would be good enough even if the Giants and Buccaneers also finish with the same number of wins. Green Bay would advance in a three-way tie due to strength of victory; they would also knock out either team in a two-way tie. That’s because the Packers would’ve beaten the Giants head-to-head (the first tiebreaker) and their strength of victory would almost certainly be better than Tampa Bay’s (the fourth tiebreaker).
Green Bay is still is a long way from making the playoffs. Even if Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play next week, knocking off the Giants and Bears will be no easy task. The Giants boast a strong running game and a powerful pass rush – two things that have given the Packers trouble all season. And the Bears already beat Green Bay once this season – and that was back when the IR list looked more like a practice squad and less like a 53-man roster. Nevertheless, thanks to two improbably finishes in week 15, the Packers are once again in control of their own destiny. And what more can any team ask for with just two games left in the season?