Heading into Week 15, there were 16 possible scenarios where the Detroit Lions could have clinched a playoff berth. A big chunk of them were long-winded, and the most cut-and-dry one; beat the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Seattle Seahawks, fell just short of happening.
But the Lions' path to winning the NFC North as soon as Week 16 became very simple after Week 15. Beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road on Christmas Eve, and its theirs. Division title drought (since 1993) and playoff drought (since 2016), over in one fair swoop. They would also host a playoff game at Ford Field for the first time.
Taking care of their own business is cleanest way for the Lions to make the playoffs, not that there's any doubt they're going to the playoffs and winning the NFC North right now. It's a matter of what seed they'll have at this point.
Other scenarios where the Detroit Lions can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16
There are two other ways the Lions can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16. One could give them a playoff spot before they play on Sunday.
1. Rams lose or tie the Saints on Thursday night
2. Seahawks lose or tie the Titans on Sunday
The Rams have won four of their last five games to jump into playoff contention, and there's a current possible scenario that has Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit for a Wild Card Game. The Saints are 7-7 with a chance to win the NFC South.
In a broad sense, the Seahawks shouldn't have much trouble with the 5-9 and playoff-eliminated Titans. But they'll be on a short week after playing Monday night, the game is in Nashville and Mike Vrabel's team won't just lay down.
So the Lions could clinch a playoff spot on Thursday night if the Saints win, then give fans a Christmas present with a division title by beating the Vikings on Sunday. The only other Week 16 clinching scenario having anything to do with the Lions is the following.
San Francisco clinches NFC’s No. 1 seed, lone first-round bye and homefield advantage with:
SF win + PHI loss + DAL loss + DET loss