NFL Power Rankings: Can The Lions Make The Playoffs?


Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scores a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s NFL power rankings have some big jumpers. With the middle of the pack so tightly grouped together, several teams can jump four or five other teams with a win or drop behind just as many with a loss. There are currently seven teams better than 6-5 with another seven at exactly 6-5. With six more at 5-6 and seven at 4-7, there are really only five teams without at least a decent shot at the playoffs. Of the thirteen teams that are 5-6 or 4-7, a playoff spot will likely require winning every game left on their schedule. Each team’s chances are a little bit different, but let’s take a look at the Lions’ chances to see just what kind of challenge lies ahead for each of these teams.

To determine the Lions’ playoff odds, the NY Times made a handy little playoff simulator. For Detroit to make the playoffs, they don’t have to win out. They can technically make the playoffs at 8-8, but the odds for the Lions to get in at 8-8 are about 5 – 10%. That’s not very good. If the Lions win out, however, their odds increase to about a 60% chance of making the playoffs, a significant difference.

So the Lions have to win out, what next? The easiest way to plot your rooting interests is that you should be pulling for NFC Division leaders (including the Vikings) and AFC teams. After that, it wouldn’t hurt to root against Green Bay, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New York.

As things currently stand, the Lions’ playoff chances are grim. But if the Lions can beat the Packers at home, they have a legitimate shot at running the table. The remaining schedule is St. Louis, New Orleans, San Francisco and Chicago. And if the Lions can win out, they should have a legitimate chance to grab  one of the NFC wildcard spots.

Since the Lions have a good chance at a playoff spot at 4-7, that means twelve other teams have just as good a shot at the playoffs if they can win out too. That includes six NFC teams.

This week’s biggest risers are Washington and Houston, who each moved up ten spots, from 25 to 15 and from 21 to 11, respectively. The main reason each team jumped so many spots is because they’re both currently in the playoffs. With Washington’s win over the Giants, they now hold the top spot in the NFC East. The Texans beat New Orleans to win their fourth straight and take over the six seed in the AFC.

Our biggest drop this week was those same New Orleans Saints. The Saints spoiled a great opportunity to get into the playoff mix by dropping three straight to Tennessee, Washington and Houston. The Saints fall five spots this week from 19 to 24.

That about does it for the big movers and shakers in this week’s NFL power rankings, so without further ado:

1. team. 87. The Panthers are the last remaining undefeated team. They have the Saints, Giants, Bucs and Falcons (twice) left on the schedule. Can they finish undefeated?. (11-0). Previous: . Carolina Panthers

2. team. 47. The Patriots were finally toppled by the Broncos in Denver. It took OT, but the Patriots won’t be repeating their undefeated season from 2007.. (10-1). Previous: . New England Patriots

32. The Cardinals may be 12-2 before they get the chance to impact the wildcard race. The last two weeks of the season include match ups with Green Bay and Seattle.. (9-2). Previous: . Arizona Cardinals. 3. team

Denver Broncos. 4. team. 45. The Osweiler era is off to a lovely start. The 6’7″ quarterback is 2-0 as a starter with a win against a sure fire hall of famer. Also, CJ Anderson fantasy owners may finally get some use out of him.. (9-2). Previous:

56. With the Browns, 49ers, and Ravens left on the schedule, the Bengals have the division locked up. Can they win enough games to get a bye?. (9-2). Previous: . Cincinnati Bengals. 5. team

6. team. 60. The Seahawks and Cardinals are up next for the NFC North division leaders.. (8-3). Previous: . Minnesota Vikings

7. team. 49. If Green Bay can beat Detroit, they could be on top of the division in two weeks time.. (7-4). Previous: . Green Bay Packers

team. 124. The Chiefs are averaging over 30 points a game during their five game win streak and their remaining five opponents are a combined 18-36.. (6-5). Previous: . Kansas City Chiefs. 8

Seattle got their first quality win against the Steelers this week. Fortunately for them, there’s only a couple quality opponents left on their schedule.. (6-5). Previous: . Seattle Seahawks. 9. team. 36

Is there anything more frustrating than a bad team winning games because they play in the worst division in the league? The Colts will make the playoffs even though they shouldn’t.. (6-5). Previous: . Indianapolis Colts. 10. team. 46

10. Along those same lines, the Texans have strung together four wins in a row, even managing to topple the Bengals. As bad as the offense is, the defense is playing superb of late.. (6-5). Previous: . Houston Texans. 11. team

55. The Steelers had the Seahawks on the ropes but interceptions kept Pittsburgh from taking a winnable game and a playoff spot. They find themselves on the outside currently.. (6-5). Previous: . Pittsburgh Steelers. 12. team

30. The Jets are just too inconsistent to be a playoff team. The schedule could allow it if they ever got the offense and defense on the same page.. (6-5). Previous: . New York Jets. 13. team

team. 44. The Falcons’ free fall continues and with the surging Bucs and two match ups with the Panthers coming up, their playoff hopes are all but dashed.. (6-5). Previous: . Atlanta Falcons. 14

31. The Giants can probably get three more wins this season and they’ll be there to steal the division if Washington falters.. (5-6). Previous: . New York Giants. 16. team

team. 16. The Bills are still playing hard but the schedule hasn’t been kind. Three of their last four losses have been to Cincinnati, New England and Kansas City.. (5-6). Previous: . Buffalo Bills. 17

Previous: . Chicago Bears. 18. team. 57. The Bears’ schedule down the stretch is not as easy as it once seemed. Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Detroit stand in Chicago’s path to the playoffs.. (5-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 19. team. 48. Tampa Bay has a bunch of winnable games left on the schedule. They get the undefeated Panthers in Week 17 when Carolina could be resting their starters for a playoff run.. (5-6). Previous:

28. The Raiders are toast. They’ve flashed a ton of talent so far, but two match ups with the Chiefs plus games against Denver and Green Bay means Oakland is watching the playoffs at home.. (5-6). Previous: . Oakland Raiders. 20. team

Jacksonville Jaguars. 21. team. 52. The Jaguars had a chance to control their destiny and then lost to the Chargers. They still face the Colts and Texans, but they’ll need to make up another game on both teams to compete for the division.. (4-7). Previous:

team. 50. Three straight wins have Lions fans dreaming about playoff possibilities. The playoffs are still a long way away. A victory against Green Bay gets them one step closer to making their dream a reality.. (4-7). Previous: . Detroit Lions. 22

59. The Dolphins are firing people again. Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor was the latest casualty. Maybe the next one will realize they need to run the ball.. (4-7). Previous: . Miami Dolphins. 23. team

15. The Saints have no defense. They should be able to draft some help with a high draft pick after they finish with five or six wins.. (4-7). Previous: . New Orleans Saints. 24. team

team. 51. A rough schedule for the Rams means they won’t be in the playoff picture. They should be able to play spoiler though with Tampa Bay, Detroit and Seattle left on the schedule.. (4-7). Previous: . St. Louis Rams. 25

team. 54. With just one win in their last five games and the Patriots and Cardinals left on the schedule, Chip Kelly may not be long for Philly.. (4-7). Previous: . Philadelphia Eagles. 26

26. The Ravens are 4-7 with all of their losses by one score. I wonder if that has ever happened before…. (4-7). Previous: . Baltimore Ravens. 27. team

28. team. 13. The Chargers won for the first time since Week 4, ending the second longest losing streak in the league this year after the Cowboys’ seven game skid.. (3-8). Previous: . San Diego Chargers

(3-8). Previous: . San Francisco 49ers. 29. team. 42. So Blaine Gabbert wasn’t the answer to the 49ers’ offensive woes. Who would’ve thought?

team. 123. Better luck next year Dallas. It’s almost like karma bit them for employing an abuser. Actually, let’s wish for the exact same amount of luck next year.. (3-8). Previous: . Dallas Cowboys. 30

team. 35. It’s a two way race for the number one pick in the draft. Tennessee is in full-on mock draft mode.. (2-9). Previous: . Tennessee Titans. 31

Previous: . Cleveland Browns. 32. team. 53. Losing on a kick-six? That’s so Browns. Maybe they should just fold up shop for the season.. (2-9)