The Detroit Lions have a chance at a playoff spot no one saw them clinching this season. And not only that, they have a chance to do it prior to their Week 18 showdown against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Lions are soaring after defeating the New York Jets in Week 15. It’s their sixth win in their last seven games as Detroit has completely turned its season around. They are now 7-7 with a rather favorable schedule ahead of them.
Right now, the Lions are the ninth seed in the NFC. This puts them two spots out of the playoffs. The Washington Commanders currently hold the coveted seventh seed, with the Seattle Seahawks sitting in eighth.
Detroit is a half-game back of the 7-6-1 Commanders, and they are behind Seattle via a tiebreaker. Here is how they can overcome the odds and clinch a playoff spot before Week 18.
Lions’ best-case scenario
Besides the Lions themselves, there are three teams we need to keep an eye on. Those are the Commanders, Seahawks, and Packers. Each of these teams and their results over the next two games are vital for this scenario coming true.
Let’s start with the Lions. Simply put, they need to win both of their next two games. They travel to Carolina for a Christmas Eve showdown with the Panthers. After that, they come back home to host Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears.
Seattle plays the 11-3 Kansas City Chiefs and the Jets over their next two games. Detroit needs Seattle to either lose both, or get a combination of a loss and tie.
They need the Commanders to either lose out or lose one-tie one, as well. Washington takes on the 10-4 San Francisco 49ers this week and the 6-8 Cleveland Browns next week.
With these outcomes, the Lions find themselves in a playoff spot at 9-7 heading into Week 18. Neither the Commanders nor Seahawks could catch them, either. However, the Packers could catch them still.
Green Bay faces the 8-6 Miami Dolphins and 11-3 Minnesota Vikings prior to hosting the Lions. If Green Bay wins these games, they head into Week 18 a game behind the Lions at 8-8.
Detroit losing that games means the Packers and Lions go to a tiebreaker to determine the seventh seed. However, this is where it gets complicated. Detroit and Green Bay would be level on head-to-head, division record, record in common games, and conference record.
The next tiebreaker is strength of victory. This is essentially the combined record of the teams they beat. Green Bay comes out slightly ahead in this scenario, meaning they would surpass the Lions for the seventh seed.
To avoid this, Detroit needs Green Bay to lose or tie one game, either to Miami or Minnesota, before Week 18. Going week to week, here is what Detroit needs to happen in these next two weeks:
- Lions def. Panthers
- Chiefs def. Seahawks
- 49ers def. Commanders
- Dolphins def./tie Packers
- Jets def. Seahawks
- Lions def. Bears
- Browns def. Commanders
- Vikings def./tie Packers (if Packers win Week 16)
These results, individually, aren’t farfetched. The Chiefs and 49ers are two of the strongest teams in the NFL, and the Dolphins have shown flashes of elite play this season. The Lions have already beaten the Bears once, winning 31-30 in comeback fashion in Week 10. Furthermore, the Vikings have already beaten the Packers this season.
No one could have predicted this scenario for Detroit just a few weeks ago. In fact, they fired their defensive backs coach and seemed destined for another low finish in the standings.
However, they have clawed their way back into the playoff hunt. They have certainly shown they aren’t the Same Old Lions anymore. Now, it’s time to finish the job.