How Green Bay's Hail Mary Changed the NFC Playoff Picture

Aaron Rodgers tossed a prayer on Thursday night that was caught in the end zone for the win. How did the big play impact the NFC's playoff picture?

We can talk all day about whether or not Aaron Rodgers was actually facemasked on Thursday night, and if that final play -- the Hail Mary that silenced a Detroit crowd -- should've even happened. I'm sure some of you have opinions on how mediocre NFL referees are, while others would agree with me when I say it's nearly impossible to call that play correctly in real time.

Opinions don't really matter here, though. We want numbers. We want facts.

So exactly how did that Rodgers-to-Rodgers play actually impact the NFC playoff picture?

Well, the Packers' win essentially pushed the Lions out of the playoff picture. With the loss, Detroit now has a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs. Had they won the contest, their chances were still slim, but they would've had 4.48% odds, per our metrics.

The win for Green Bay, meanwhile, was pretty huge. With the victory, only the Cardinals and Panthers have better odds than Green Bay's 92.08% of making the playoffs. The Vikings are still favored to win the division (53.2% versus 46.64%), but it's looking like the Packers will be dancing in January.

Had the prayer not worked out for Green Bay on Thursday, then we're looking at a completely different playoff picture. They would've only had 28.74% odds of winning the division, and their playoff chances would have dropped to 66.5%. That's a huge change from the 92.08% chance they have now.

Teams fighting for a wild card spot naturally took a hit from the result. Atlanta's odds dropped by 4.34%, Tampa Bay's by 4.86%, and Seattle's by 6.90%.

As it stands, our projections see the Packers taking the top wild card spot in the NFC, while Seattle is the six seed. And although that would've been the case even with a Green Bay loss on Thursday, the Packers are still in a far better spot than they would've been without the historic deep ball.