Does the NFL Week 18 schedule benefit the Packers?
There’s no smoking gun, but it seems like smoke is in the air, when considering the idea that Green Bay’s road to the post season, goes through a team that could be eliminated by the time they meet.
Once the schedule was released for NFL’s eighteenth and final week, it wasn’t long before the conspiracy theories about Aaron Rodgers and the NFL’s love for him started to make the rounds.
Has the NFL given the Packers a leg up?
Let’s set the scene for you: This coming Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers will play the Detroit Lions in the final game of NFL’s Week 18, which is to say the prime-time slot. That in itself is all well and good, but there’s one factor in play that could be of great significance. By the time the game kicks off, the Lions may already be eliminated from playoff contention which would understandably favor the Packers in a big way. If you didn’t know, there are three teams currently vying for the final spot in the NFC playoffs: The Packers, the Lions and the Seahawks.
With a win, the Packers clinch that spot. On the other side, the Lions not only need to beat the Packers, but they need the Seahawks to lose to the Rams as well. By now, you can probably imagine that where the Seahawks are concerned, it’s a similar scenario in that they need to beat the Rams and hope the Packers lose to Detroit. The problem here, is that Seattle faces Los Angeles at 3:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, while the Packers and Lions - as mentioned before - play the last game of the day at 8:20 p.m. ET. That’s all to say, that should Seattle win, the Lions will essentially be playing for nothing more than a chance to spoil the party for Aaron Rodgers and Co., something that may be appealing, but not nearly as much as the possibility of a trip to the post season. So, what’s the deal, did the NFL help out the Packers?
But aren’t the Packers favored to win anyway?
Yes, given the way Green Bay has improved of late and the way that Detroit hasn’t, it’s highly likely that the Packers will beat the Lions. Yet, where the league is concerned, it definitely raises an eyebrow to think that they could do so when Detroit could potentially know they’ve nothing to play for. That’s all to say: Why didn’t the NFL schedule the game for the same time slot as the Seahawks vs Rams? This question becomes even more poignant, when you consider that the AFC South title fight between the Jaguars and Titans could easily have been placed in that slot. That would still have allowed the NFL to adhere to its understandable tradition of placing its tastiest treat on the table for the prime-time final slot. At that point, the idea that the NFL wants the Packers in the playoffs starts to gain some traction.
But wait, it gets worse. Consider for a moment, that the Titans and Jaguars are instead playing on Saturday which means Tennessee will have benefitted from eight days of rest, while the Jaguars will have had just five. Surely that’s not right. Ultimately, this is all speculation and it could be that the Lions come out with one thing in mind regardless of if Seattle wins: Stop the Packers from going to the playoffs. On the other hand, the more probable situation is that Rodgers and his men enter the playoffs as the No. 7 and then face the 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend.
Conclusion? Something is fishy with the Packers
Again, we’re not saying the NFL has given Green Bay a pass, but something certainly looks amiss. Indeed, when you think about the fact that if the 49ers lose to the Cardinals and the Vikings beat the Bears - Minnesota likely will - you’ve then got yourself a situation where the Vikings will go at No.2, which would mean they would host the Packers in the first round. That would of course be the third time the teams meet, and undoubtedly something that would make TV viewership sense with the Packers having recently beaten the Vikings. As usual, watch this space.