The Detroit Lions could clinch a playoff spot through the NFC North division title or a Wild Card berth in Week 16.
The Detroit Lions didn’t get much closer to the playoffs this week thanks to a loss against the New York Giants and a Packers win over the Bears, but their playoff odds are still alive and well. They have a scenario to clinch a playoff spot even if they lose to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
Here’s what they’ll need to have happen to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16.
NFC North Division
Green Bay Packers: The Lions’ magic number over the Packers remains at 1.5. The Lions will clinch the division on Sunday with:
- A win over the Cowboys AND a Packers loss or tie to the Vikings.
- A tie against the Cowboys AND a Packers loss to the Vikings.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings were eliminated from NFC North contention with Sunday’s 34-6 loss against the Indianapolis Colts.
Chicago Bears: Eliminated
Because the Lions and Cowboys don’t play until Monday Night, they’ll have the benefit of knowing the result of the Packers-Vikings game. If the Vikings happen to win, the Lions and Cowboys would mutually benefit from a tie. In that scenario, the Cowboys would clinch the number one overall seed in the NFC and the Lions would clinch the NFC North Division.
The division title would guarantee the Lions a home playoff game. As potential division winners they could still earn the two, three, or four seed in the NFC.
NFC Wild Card
The Lions are battling the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins for a potential Wild Card berth in the NFC. Sunday’s loss to the Giants means the Lions’ only route to the Wild Card comes as the number six seed. (The Giants now have 10 wins and own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Lions would need two wins to pass them, but two wins would give Detroit the division instead).
Atlanta Falcons/Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of these teams will win the NFC South division, so the Lions would only potentially be battling the loser in the Wild Card standings. The Lions will clinch Wild Card position over the NFC South if the Buccaneers lose to the Saints and the Falcons win or tie against the Panthers.
The Lions will be eliminated from Wild Card contention with a loss to the Cowboys AND a Buccaneers win over the Saints.
Washington Redskins: Washington’s loss on Monday Night Football means they need to win both remaining games (and have the Lions lose both) to pass Detroit in the Wild Card Standings. The Lions can clinch over the Redskins with a win on Monday Night OR a Redskins loss at the Bears
Wild Card Clinch: So, the Lions can clinch an NFC Wild Card spot in Week 16 in two ways:
- A win over the Cowboys AND a Buccaneers loss or tie to the Saints.
- A loss to the Cowboys AND a Buccaneers loss to the Saints AND a Redskins loss (or tie) to the Bears AND a Falcons win (or tie) against the Panthers.
No matter what happens in Week 16, even if all the results go the wrong way, the Lions will have a chance to win the division in Week 17 with a head-to-head win over the Packers.