Claiming a circulation of over three million, and a readership of 23 million, when Sports Illustrated comes out with its annual standings and postseason projections, sports enthusiasts pay attention. This year, the magazine had a couple of surprises in store for Green Bay Packers fans.
Going against most prognosticators, SI is predicting that the Vikings and Packers will have identical regular season records of 11-5 – but that the Vikings will emerge as the division champ. The Packers are projected to be the fifth-seeded NFC team, landing them in the wild card game.
After the bad news, however, SI follows up with some better tidings. It predicts the Packers will prevail over the Giants in the wild-card game, then oust the top-seeded Falcons in the divisional round.
If so, this gets Green Bay to the NFC championship game, and SI predicts that the Packers will vanquish the Vikings in that contest.
This would put Green Bay back in the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2010 season. The magazine, however, envisions that the Packers will fall to the current Super Bowl champion Patriots, though by a close 31-27 score.
SI’s NFC projected seedings, from the top down, are the Falcons, Vikings, Seahawks, Giants, Packers and Buccaneers. The similar AFC lineup consists of the Patriots, Steelers, Raiders, Titans, Chiefs, and Ravens.
That’s a bunch of familiar names, with the Bucs being the only projected recent newcomer to the NFC dance. They last appeared, and lost, in a wild card game in 2007. In the AFC, the Raiders have been to the postseason just once since 2002, losing in a wild card game. The Titans haven’t been there since 2008, and the Ravens were last there in 2014, also losing in a wild card game.
The Patriots and Packers each have a string going of eight straight postseason appearances.