American Football

NFC playoff picture: Detroit Lions need Week 18 win, plus help to clinch

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions do not control their playoff destiny, but they only need a little help in Week 18.

The Detroit Lions took care of their own business on Sunday by dismantling the Chicago Bears 41-10. It was a nice bounceback game for Detroit, and it kept their playoff hopes alive going into the final week of the season.

After last week’s slip-up against the Panthers, the Lions needed help to get into a playoff spot. In the early games, the Lions got it when the Washington Commanders lost to the Cleveland Browns. Detroit did not get the same loads of help in the late Sunday games, meaning they will be entering the final season in need of some more help in Week 18. They are not in sole control of their destiny.

Because there are no NFC teams in “Sunday Night Football” or “Monday Night Football” we already know what the NFC looks like after Week 17. Here’s where things stand:

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 13-3 — Clinched playoff spot
  2. 49ers: 12-4 — Clinched NFC West
  3. Vikings: 12-4 — Clinched NFC North
  4. Buccaneers — Clinched NFC South

The Bucs clinched their division with a win over the Panthers. The Vikings slipped a spot after getting blown out by the Packers. But most notably, with another Eagles loss, the No. 1 seed is still up for grabs, and the Dallas Cowboys could even jump in and steal the NFC East. crown from Philly

Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 12-4 — Clinched playoff spot
  2. Giants: 9-6-1 — Clinched playoff spot
  3. Seahawks: 8-8
  4. Lions: 8-8
  5. Packers: 8-8

The Giants clinched a spot with their Week 17 win, leaving it to be a three-way battle for the final playoff spot in the NFC. Currently, that belongs to the Seahawks, and here’s why:

  • When there is a three-way tie, tiebreakers must be invoked to make sure there is only one team per division. The Lions currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers, so Green Bay is out.
  • With just the Seahawks and Lions left, the Seahawks have the head-to-head, so they’re in.

For the Lions, there are now just two routes to the playoffs, and it involves two, simple steps:

  • Beat the Packers AND
  • Seahawks lose or tie to the Rams

OR

  • Tie the Packers AND
  • Seahawks lose to the Rams

This should make for an interesting Week 18, as Lions fans have been rooting against the Rams all season due to draft pick. Now their playoff lives depend on Baker Mayfield and company.

Even if the Lions don’t get help from Seattle, they have a golden opportunity to knock the Packers out of the playoffs with a victory in Lambeau. That would be a pretty sweet consolation prize for Detroit.

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