After going undefeated for all of November, losing to the Giants last Sunday was a harsh wakeup call for the Lions. Now at 9-5 and holding onto a tenuous lead in the NFC North the Lions are in real danger of both losing the North and potentially a spot in the NFC playoffs.
With 2 weeks left in the season, here's the NFL playoff picture. pic.twitter.com/cnxFi8wrBO
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 20, 2016
The Lions are huge underdogs heading into the Dallas game, and in all likelihood will drop to 9-6 potentially pulling them even with the Packers and the Buccaneers. These 9-6 Lions would then have to win against Green Bay to win the NFC North and clinch a playoff spot, because if they lose to both the Cowboys and the Packers and the Bucs win against the Saints and the Panthers the Bucs will be 10-6 and edge out the 9-7 Lions for the last NFC Wild Card spot.
Obviously the only way for the Lions to control their own destiny moving on from this point is to win out, but since that’s a huge statistical improbability a more realistic hope may be 1-1. A 10-6 Lions team that beats the Packers wins the NFC North and secures a playoff spot, but a 10-6 Lions team that beats the Cowboys and loses to the Packers could be a 6th seed Wild Card team. If the Buccaneers win out and end at 10-6 they would get the 6th seed over the Lions because they would end with a better divisional record at 5-1 compared to the Lions who would be 3-3 if they lost against the Packers.
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So the Lions need to win against the Packers if they’re going to get in the playoffs, because even if they win against the Cowboys and lose to the Packers they don’t have a sure chance of making the playoffs. If the Buccaneers lose it’ll give the Lions some much needed breathing room, but every game from here is a must win for the Lions.