The pressure is mounting for several teams that are fighting to get a wild card spot in the upcoming NFL playoffs, and the only way to tackle that pressure is to get wins.
These two teams got much-needed victories in Week 17 in order to keep their postseason hopes alive, not to mention send a message to the rest of the league.
Green Bay Packers
Just over a month ago, the Packers were 4-8, and with their offense looking as weak as a 1972 Ford Pinto, it looked like their playoff hopes were all but dead.
But they have shown some of that old Green Bay magic of late, winning four straight games, including Sunday’s 41-17 wipeout of the rival Minnesota Vikings, who came into the contest with the second seed in the NFC.
The win gave the Packers an 8-8 record on the season, which puts them in a tie with the Seattle Seahawks for the final wild card spot in the conference, although Seattle holds the tiebreaker.
But the rest of Green Bay’s path to the playoffs won’t be easy, as it will face the surging Detroit Lions, who have won seven of their last nine games, in Week 18.
New England Patriots
After a rocky season, the Patriots managed to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, but they faced a stiff test in the form of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Even with Tua Tagovailoa out for Miami due to a concussion, it wouldn’t be easy for New England, especially given that it was playing shorthanded.
But quarterback Mac Jones came through with a big touchdown pass to Jakobi Myers in the fourth quarter to ensure a 23-21 win and an 8-8 record, which put the Patriots into seventh place for the final AFC wild card spot.
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Like the Packers, they will need to truly earn that playoff spot, as they will play the Buffalo Bills in upstate New York next week to close out the regular season.