Despite starting the season with a 1-6 record, the Detroit Lions could play themselves into the postseason picture as soon as Saturday. With a win over the Carolina Panthers, Detroit could push itself into the seventh seed in the NFC.
The Lions have won six of their last seven games under head coach Dan Campbell, who has pivoted the team from its losing ways into a unit that finds ways to emerge from close games victorious.
The Panthers will be a tough test, as they are one game back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South.
Should Detroit secure a road win, it will improve to 8-7. With some help, the Lions will take the inside track to the seventh seed, with two games left to play.
Here are four games around the league that impact the Lions and their playoff chances, with notes on which teams Lions fans should be pulling for.
Seattle Seahawks (7-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
(Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX)
The Seahawks are the only of the three teams near the Lions in the wild card standings that hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over them. Detroit’s coaching staff is likely harboring thoughts about the way that game went, a 48-45 defeat in which the defense failed to force a punt.
Luckily for Detroit, the Seahawks have a date with a juggernaut on Saturday. Travelling to Arrowhead Stadium is never an easy task, and Seattle’s offense has sputtered in recent weeks.
Quarterback Geno Smith and company have suffered two straight losses, and the matchup with Patrick Mahomes will be a tough one, as the team looks to break the streak.
Should the Seahawks lose, the Lions would pass them in the standings with a win. For that reason, Detroit fans should be cheering for Mahomes and his weapons to be at their best.
© David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants (8-5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
(Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX)
The Giants are coming off a huge win on Sunday night against the Washington Commanders (more on them later), which was an impactful game in the NFC standings.
The win snapped a four-game winless skid for the Giants, with a tie in the first meeting with the Commanders sandwiched between three losses. The win ensures New York won’t fall out of the playoff picture with a loss.
Minnesota, at home and coming off a historic comeback win, is favored in this game. This game means plenty to them, even after it clinched the division title last week. With a win over the Giants, the Vikings will remain the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Lions fans should put divisional bias away for the weekend and root for the Vikings, as a victory for Kevin O’Connell’s team does double good for Detroit. It moves New York a game closer to the brink, while keeping the Vikings as the No. 2 seed — the first-round opponent for Detroit should it sneak into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
Washington Commanders (7-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4) (Saturday, 4:05 p.m., CBS)
Much like the Giants, the Lions hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Commanders, dating back to a Week 2 victory. Washington is feeling the defeat suffered on Sunday to the Giants, as it drops the Commanders out of the playoff picture for the time being.
A loss for Washington and a win for Detroit would put the Lions a half-game ahead with two games to play. The 49ers are playing well, and could do the Lions a favor Saturday afternoon, even while rookie Brock Purdy is leading the offense.
With games against Cleveland and Dallas still remaining, Washington could get back into the thick of the race. The tie in Washington’s record makes the head-to-head tiebreaker nearly meaningless, so Lions fans should be rooting for the Commanders to lose at every possible turn.
Should Washington and Seattle both lose, Detroit will wake up Sunday morning entrenched as the NFC’s No. 7 seed.
Green Bay Packers (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-6)
(Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)
With back-to-back wins, the Packers are keeping pace with the rest of the NFC, as the season grows thin. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though still showing his flaws, has the Packers in a prime position to wreak havoc down the stretch of the season.
If both the Lions and Packers win their next two games, the Week 18 matchup at Lambeau Field will come with plenty of intrigue. Green Bay can’t catch the Lions should it suffer a loss, but wins against Miami and Minnesota next week would bring its record to .500 (with one game to play).
If Lions fans want to avoid even the thought of Rodgers causing mayhem in the regular season finale, then they should be backing Miami in Sunday’s game. A Dolphins win would all but crush the Packers’ waning playoff hopes.
Source : Sports Illustrated