By: Will Burchfield

Rewind to early October, when the Lions were 1-3. Heck, rewind to early September, when they had yet to play a game. Back then, even their most ardent fans couldn’t have predicted this: heading into Week 15, the Lions have a chance to clinch the NFC North.

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And it won’t take some crazy scenario to come to fruition.

It’s simple. If the Lions beat the Giants on Sunday and the Packers lose to the Bears (in Chicago), Detroit will secure its first division title since 1993.

And just about every prognosticator in the land will be proven wrong.

(How’s this for a sample? Of the 20 experts on who picked a preseason champ in the NFC North, not one chose the Lions.)

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The Lions have a tall task in taking on the Giants this weekend. New York is coming off its best win of the season, Matthew Stafford figures to be compromised by his finger injury and the weather at MetLife Stadium could pose a challenge for a Lions team that hasn’t played a true outdoor game since Week 4 in Chicago.

And in the other game of import, the Packers will be heavy favorites against the last-place Bears.

Still, this season has taught us to take nothing for granted.

Would it be all that much of a surprise to see the Lions go into New Jersey, hang tight with a scuffling Giants offense and eke out another dramatic fourth-quarter victory? And would it be a total stunner to see the Packers stumble in Chicago, undone by frigid conditions and a Bears team that’s been playing better of late?

Not really. If anything, it would be affirmation of an already-improbable season.

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The Lions are in good shape in the Wild Card race as well. But there’s only one playoff-clinching scenario before them at the moment, and that runs through the division – the same division they were given no shot to win.