The Detroit Lions have a 6-2 record at their ideally placed bye week this week. They are two games clear of everyone in the NFC North, and their three division foes aren't looking good right now based on performance, key injuries, etc. The franchise's first division title since 1993, when they played in the NFC Central, feels like a lock.
Week 9 is a good recharge and get healthy point, as head coach Dan Campbell noted earlier this week. Nice finishes the last two seasons point to the Lions having another strong finish this year, if the schedule will cooperate.
The Lions have only played one division game thus far, so five of their last nine games will be against division opponents. The won't play the Minnesota Vikings until Week 16, then they'll finish the season against them in Week 18.
Post-bye schedule lines up very nicely for the Detroit Lions
Here's a look at the schedule for the Lions after their Week 9 bye.
Week 10: at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 11: vs. Chicago Bears
Week 12: vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 13: at New Orleans Saints
Week 14: at Chicago Bears
Week 15: vs. Denver Broncos
Week 16: at Minnesota Vikings
Week 17: at Dallas Cowboys
Week 18: vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Lions face one team with a winning record over the rest of the season, the 5-2 Cowboys. The Vikings are at .500 right now (4-4), but with Kirk Cousins out for the season who knows where they'll be come Week 16. The Lions will also play just one outdoor game where weather could be a factor, Week 14 against the Bears.
The road game against the Chargers coming out of the bye could be a challenge, but it's fair to assume Lions' fans will travel like they have all season to make it a de facto favorable crowd. There are some trap games in there (Thanksgiving against the Packers; Broncos in Week 15), but the Cowboys' game looks the only game that can be marked pretty confidently as a loss.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a challenging upcoming schedule, as do the San Francisco 49ers. Of the three, the Lions have the easiest-looking path to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Going 8-1 after the bye is in play, and 14-3 might earn that top seed with some room to spare.