The Dallas victory over Detroit last night made the NFC playoff picture a bit more clear. This much we know:
* The Redskins host the Giants at 4:25 EST Sunday. Even with a victory, they’re not 100% in the playoffs. The Giants have nothing to play for, and are locked into the 5th seed. Why would they play Eli Manning? The Redskins should win. If the Giants manage to win, then the Sunday night game between the Lions and Packers takes on a complex scenario: Both of those teams would get in with a win or tie.
* If the Redskins win, then the winner of Lions/Packers gets into the playoffs … but they’d both get in if the game ends in a tie. If this were soccer, we’d be looking at a tie. Football? I can’t see it.
The Lions were 9-4 and in great shape after a narrow home win over Chicago. But they had to go on the road against NFC East heavyweights New York and Dallas and lost both games by double digits. Suddenly, the Lions are frauds once again.
Can they beat the the hottest team and QB in the league at home? The Packers are 3-point favorites on the road, but it feels like it should be higher than that. Green Bay has won three of its last four against the Lions, including a 27-23 triumph in Detroit last year.
Earlier this year, the Packers led 31-3 before letting Detroit rally in the second half. Green Bay won, 34-27.
The biggest thing to watch here is Jim Caldwell, Detroit’s head coach. This needs to be a kitchen sink for him. He came into the season on the hot seat, and you’d have to think cratering from 9-4 and leading the division in December to 9-7 and missing the playoffs would put his job in jeopardy.