Updated NFC playoff picture: Detroit Lions have simple path to win NFC North

The Detroit Lions didn't clinch a playoff spot (yet) on Sunday, but their path to winning the NFC North got a little easier.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff spot clinching scenario for the Detroit Lions in Week 15 is down to this. If the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, with their new defensive play caller, the Lions are in.

Saturday night's win over the Denver Broncos removed the doomsday scenario where the Lions could fall completely out of the playoffs. The next step is the division title, which would be the franchise's first since 1993.

With the Green Bay Packers' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Lions are at least three games clear of everyone in the division with three games to go.

  • Lions: 10-4
  • Vikings: 7-7
  • Packers: 6-8
  • Bears: 5-9

Of course two of those remaining games for Detroit are against the Minnesota Vikings, which could complicate matters but also makes things cut and dry.

Detroit Lions' division-clinching scenario is simple

The Lions' "magic number" to win the NFC North is 1. One more win, or one more Vikings' loss, and it's done. Losing out and the Vikings winning out is the only way it shifts to the Vikings, since that would come with Minnesota getting the season sweep over Detroit.

Beating the Vikings in Week 16 clinches the NFC North for the Lions. Simple.

In terms of playoff seeding, the Lions are most likely to land the No. 3 seed. The longshot path to the No. 1 seed includes winning out and the San Francisco 49ers losing at least two of their last three (vs. Baltimore Ravens, at Washington Commanders, vs. Los Angeles Rams). The percentage chance at the No. 2 seed would of course get better if the Eagles lose to the Seahawks on Monday night, but the Cowboys would take it over based on a better current conference record than the Lions.

It's nice to be talking about playoff scenarios for the Lions. From this corner, as nice as it would be to have a chance at a higher seed, let's see them get in, clinch the division and let the chips fall where they may from there.


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