By: Will Burchfield
The Lions had to win on Saturday to have any hope of making the playoffs.
They took care of business versus the Bears, and now it’s back to scoreboard watching.
At 8-6, the Lions sit in eighth place in the NFC, trailing the Seahawks (8-5) and the Falcons (8-5) for the second wild card. They own the tiebreaker over the Seahawks, but not the Falcons.
Here’s what needs to happen over the next three weekends for the Lions to sneak into the playoffs.
- Detroit, of course, has to win out.
- Seattle has to lose at least once.
- Atlanta has to lose at least twice.
Step one continues Christmas Eve when the Lions travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals (5-8). A win there won’t be easy, but it’s well within the Lions’ grasp. Then they come home for a New Year’s eve matchup with the Packers (7-6) to close out the season. Aaron Rodgers will be on the field for a potential winner-gets-in game.
Step two is most likely to happen either this week or next. The Seahawks play home versus the Rams (9-4) on Sunday and then at the Cowboys (7-6) in Week 16. The host the Cardinals (6-7) to close out the season.
Step three is a tall order. The Falcons gave themselves a huge boost by winning a tough game over the Saints last Thursday and their controversial Week 3 win over the Lions looms large. But the Falcons have a tough road ahead. After playing at the Buccaneers on Sunday, in what should be a gimme, they play at the Saints (9-4) in Week 16 and then host the Panthers (9-4) in the season finale.
There’s a slim chance the Lions could still win the division, but the Vikings (10-3) would have to lose their final three games. They host Cincinnati on Sunday, visit Green Bay in Week 16 and host Chicago (4-10) in Week 17.
For Detroit, it’s the second wild card or bust. Per 538.com, the Lions will have a 57 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win out. The help they need is essentially a coin flip.
“Just get ready for next week, got to win next week,” said Golden Tate. “Doesn’t matter what we did this week if we don’t win next week. And just don’t get caught up looking into the future and the what-if’s. We just got to handle our business.”