It took 256 regular season games, but we’ve finally whittled down the 32-team NFL field to just 12 teams that have rightfully earned their place in the 2016-17 NFL playoffs. Now, all that stands between these teams and eternal glory as Super Bowl LI champions is four games (three for four teams with a first-round bye) and it all starts with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday afternoon. Throughout the NFL playoffs, we’ll be breaking down each game right here, with a special emphasis on the most important things, like who might win, why, and most importantly, by how many points. All lines and spreads are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.
The Detroit Lions had every opportunity to avoid their date with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. With three games left in the season, the Lions had a 9-4 record and were two games ahead of the Green Bay Packers, which would have made their Week 17 showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Pack meaningless if they could have beaten the Giants and the Cowboys.
Now, three consecutive losses later, the Lions conceded the NFC North crown to the Packers and have to find a way to beat a perennially good Seahawks team at home, where they don’t really lose, ever.
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks – Sat. Jan. 7, 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -8
Spread: Sure, the Lions backed into the playoffs and wouldn’t be here if the Redskins had taken care of business at home against the Giants in Week 17 (the Giants giveth, and the Giants taketh, it seems), but they deserve credit for surpassing the expectations many experts had for them this year. Bovada Sportsbook gave the Lions 12/1 odds to win the NFC North; tied for worst in the division with the Chicago Bears, who finished the year 3-13. Additionally, Bovada set the win total line for the Lions at O/U seven, so the team has clearly exceeded most fans’ realistic expectations.
Once again, the Lions have the odds stacked against them as they’re eight-point underdogs against the Seahawks.
For the Lions to even have a chance of winning this one, it’s going to take a Herculean effort from Matt Stafford as well as the Lions’ defense.
For Lions fans looking for a glimmer of hope in what looks like a dire situation, I direct your attention to last year’s matchup between these two teams in Seattle.
The Lions, some might argue (I know I did), should have beaten the Seahawks on the road last year, but were the victims of a missed call that ended the game 13-10 in favor of the Seahawks, as I’m sure Lions fans remember.
Still, that close call with a squad that’s similar to last year’s team — albeit markedly improved — should give the Lions some confidence heading into Seattle.
On top of that, the Seahawks haven’t been playing great football of late by any means. In a game they needed to win — and played to win — last week against the abysmal San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks needed to come from behind to sneak out a 25-23 victory. Had they somehow lost to the 49ers, they would be entering the playoffs 1-3 in their last four games; hardly how the Seahawks do things usually.
Point being, on the surface, this seems as one-sided of an affair as any, but a closer look suggests that the Lions could keep it tight, which is the way I’m leaning. Lions +8
Total: The Lions’ offense has been stagnant of late. I’m taking away a touchdown in the Packers game because of the Hail Mary at the end of the game in garbage time, which means the Lions haven’t exceeded 21 points in any of their last four games and have done it just once since Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams when they put up 31 points.
So, if I’m being consistent, assuming the Lions won’t be scoring many points, I’ll bet the Seahawks aren’t going to do so either. Under 43
Final: Lions 17, Seahawks 22