The 2014 installment of the Detroit Lions have delivered what so few previous versions have not: meaningful football games into late December. Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings clinched just the second 10-win season for what some people still want to call the “Same Old Lions” since Wayne Fontes roamed the sidelines.
One more win would bump the total to 11 – a feat that has been accomplished just three times in franchise history (just once since the institution of the 16-game schedule in 1978). Winning out would match 1992’s franchise record-setting total of 12 wins.
But the 10-win season won’t mean much to anyone unless it culminates in a playoff appearance – something the youngest generation of fans (basically anyone 20 years old or younger) has only experienced once in their memory.
The Same Old Lions still have any scenario in play from missing out entirely to claiming the number one seed in the NFC. What follows is a breakdown of the Detroit Lions playoff scenarios (skipping scenarios that involve more than one tie):
It would be easiest on the hearts of us fans if the Same Old Lions simply win next week in Chicago, but they don’t necessarily have to win another game to get into the playoffs. Either the Eagles or the Cowboys could help them. Here’s the rundown of scenarios that would clinch:
A win over Chicago in Week 16
A Philadelphia Eagles loss at Washington in Week 16
A Philadelphia Eagles loss at New York Giants in Week 17
A Dallas Cowboys loss vs. Indianapolis in Week 16 – AND – a Dallas Cowboys loss at Washington in Week 17
The Same Old Lions could end up tied in conference standings with the Seattle Seahawks at 10-6, but they cannot win the tiebreaker over the defending champs due to their record versus common opponents. Detroit would also get in with two Eagles ties, but that’s hardly worth discussing at this point.
NFC North Championship
It has looked for weeks like the Week 17 matchup of Detroit at Green Bay would serve as a de facto NFC North Championship game – and that’s still probably true – but the Packers, with Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, left the door open a crack for the Same Old Lions to avoid a must-win game at Lambeau Field (a feat they last accomplished when the present author was in Kindergarten).
Here’s the brief rundown of NFC North clinching scenarios for Detroit:
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a Green Bay Packers loss at Tampa Bay in Week 16
A win at Green Bay in Week 17
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a tie at Green Bay in Week 17
First Round Bye
It looks likely that NFC North champion will receive a first round bye, but that’s not necessarily the case. Here are the scenarios that would make it so for the Same Old Lions:
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a win at Green Bay in Week 17
A win at Green Bay in Week 17 – AND – a Dallas Cowboys loss (either Week 16 or 17)
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a tie at Green Bay in Week 17 – AND – a Dallas Cowboys loss (either Week 16 or 17)
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a Green Bay Packers loss at Tampa Bay in Week 16 – AND – a Dallas Cowboys loss (either Week 16 or 17)
More from SideLion Report
- Top 5 revenge games on the Detroit Lions 2023 schedule
- Lions center Frank Ragnow optimistic about continuing to play through toe injury
- Detroit Lions 2023 preseason schedule: Dates, times and opponents
- A new contract extension projection for Lions quarterback Jared Goff
- 4 wide receivers the Detroit Lions could still look to acquire this offseason
#1 Seed in the NFC
This one’s pretty easy to grasp as there’s only one scenario here:
A win at Chicago in Week 16 – AND – a win at Green Bay in Week 17 – AND – a Seattle win at Arizona in Week 16 – AND – an Arizona loss at San Francisco in Week 17 – AND – a Seattle loss at St. Louis in Week 17.
Basically: Detroit will lose any tiebreaker to the NFC West Champion, so they need to finish one game ahead in the standings. The only way that happens if if the Same Old Lions to win out, Seattle to win the head-to-head with Arizona, and for both NFC West foes to lose in Week 17.
Missing Out Entirely
i.e. The Doom Scenario. It’s hardly fun to spell this out, but Detroit would miss the playoffs with:
A loss at Chicago in Week 16 — AND — a loss at Green Bay in Week 17 — AND — a Philadelphia Eagles win at Washington in Week 16 — AND — a Philadelphia Eagles win at New York Giants in Week 17 — AND — one Dallas Cowboys win or tie (in either Week 16 or 17).
One of those Philadelphia Eagles wins can be a tie (but not both) for the Same Old Lions to still miss the playoffs.
I vote not this last scenario.