Traditionally, any team lumped into a historical trend with both the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals often tends to be a negative one. However, in the case of this year’s Lions being compared to the Bengals, it’s something Detroit fans can actually get behind.
If Detroit can manage to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team in the NFC, they’ll have done something no other team has pulled off since the 1970 Bengals: make the playoffs after beginning 1-6 on the year.
With their 20-17 comeback victory on the road vs. the New York Jets, the Lions are 7-7 straight up on the season; winners of six of their last seven, including seven consecutive victories against the spread during their mid-season turnaround.
As Brad Berreman pointed out on Sunday, the Lions’ odds to make the playoffs took a major leap with their road victory in the Meadowlands. Via FiveThirtyEight, Detroit’s odds to get into the playoffs stand at 42%, while winning all three remaining games to finish 10-7 puts them all the way at 97%.
Here’s how the Lions’ schedule stacks up:
Detroit Lions Remaining Schedule
- Week 16: Lions at Panthers (away)
- Week 17: Lions vs. Bears (home)
- Week 18: Lions at Packers (away)
As a result, oddsmakers moved the Lions further and further up in their futures odds for the remainder of the season, including all the way up to +125 to make the playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook. While awfully close, they’re still a slight underdog based on the odds to grab a remaining postseason spot in the NFC.
While Detroit’s odds were much longer even just a week or so ago, do they remain a worthwhile bet while still at this price?
Are the Lions a good bet to make the playoffs?
With a relatively easy final three games, relative to their competition, I like the Lions to continue their strong run, eventually making the playoffs at plus-odds.
These Lions remind me of a team I covered in 2015 in the Kansas City Chiefs. After starting off 1-5, losing their best offensive player in running back Jamaal Charles to a torn ACL for the season in Week 5, Kansas City won 10 straight to finish 11-5 on the season, and shutting out the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round 30-0 before falling to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots 27-20 in the Divisional Playoffs. Their offense with Alex Smith under center took care of the football, ran effectively with a mix of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West down the stretch, had two playmakers at wide receiver and tight end with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, and turned their defense around midway through the year.
Right now, the Lions rank ninth overall in total DVOA at Football Outsiders, moving out of the bottom five defensively over the last several weeks to 22nd this week. Via NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano, they’ve also forced a turnover in 13 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the league. On offense, Jared Goff, despite playing a very talented Jets’ defense, did not turn over the ball, making him turnover-free since Week 10, while also ranking in the top 5 of the league in passer rating and passing yards.
Their competition for the final spots include the New York Giants (8-5-1), and Washington Commanders (7-6-1), who currently occupy the final playoff spot, followed by the Seattle Seahawks (7-7). The Green Bay Packers take on the Lions in the final regular season game of the year, but remain a game back at 5-8 before their matchup vs. the L.A. Rams tonight.
With New York at -500 to make it, we’ll assume they’re in for now. Washington must now travel to face the 49ers, followed by two straight home games vs. the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys. Seattle must travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in Week 16, before returning home to face the New York Jets, who also are on the NFL Playoffs bubble, and the L.A. Rams to wrap the season. The Lions, have the much easier schedule compared to their NFC wild card competitors, and also have the backing of Vegas odds.
- Lions odds to make the playoffs: +125
- Seahawks odds to make the playoffs: +150
- Commanders odds to make the playoffs: +200
The road to the playoffs continues this week when they face the Carolina Panthers in a second straight game on the road; currently set as 3-point favorites.