What do you want first, Lions fans? Good news or bad news.
Good news is, after surviving at home against Chicago and after Seattle’s loss, the Detroit Lions are currently in 2nd place in the NFC.
The bad news is pretty much everything else.
Let’s start with Matthew Stafford’s finger injury, where he dislocated a finger on his throwing hand and tore ligaments on Sunday. He’s going to try to play through it, but we’ve seen finger injuries have big impacts on quarterbacks (see Carson Palmer last year) and the Lions have had little margin for error (trailing in fourth quarter in 12 of 13 games).
It also would have been better for the Lions if the Seahawks had won at Green Bay, impacting the Packers’ chances of running them down in the division. Seattle still has a very easy closing schedule, and can clinch the West with a win over a Rams’ offense struggling through puberty.
Meanwhile, Detroit closes with this: at New York Giants (9-4), at Dallas Cowboys (11-2), vs Green Bay Packers (7-6). They will be a decent-sized underdog in the next two games, and then play what could be a toss-up game at home versus a resurgent Packers team.
In fact, despite Dallas and Seattle losing, the rest of the NFC picture solidified and did not work out for Detroit. The extreme long shots (Saints, Cardinals, Eagles) faded away, making 9-7 less likely to get in. Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Green Bay, Washington, and the Giants all won.
Here are the current standings:
- Dallas Cowboys 11-2* (NFC East leader)
- Detroit Lions 9-4 (NFC North leader)
- Seattle Seahawks 8-4-1 (NFC West leader)
- Atlanta Falcons 8-5 (NFC South leader)
- New York Giants 9-4 (Wildcard #1)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-5 (Wildcard #2)
- Washington Redskins 7-5-1
- Green Bay Packers 7-6
- Minnesota Vikings 7-6
Using the remaining schedules and tiebreakers, here are my projections for the NFC:
Tampa projects just outside of the playoffs, but it is close. Washington’s big swing road win at Philadelphia, along with a Giants win over Dallas, though, made it less likely that Tampa Bay can get in the playoffs at 9-7. The Bucs have two road games and likely need to get a win in one of them to swing back in front and control their destiny going into week 17.
In the NFC North, I’m projecting a 26% chance that the Lions can go 0-3. That is a good representation of their chances of missing the playoffs despite currently being 2nd in the NFC. The Packers would win a tiebreaker at 9-7 by sweeping the Lions, and would also win a three-way tiebreaker involving Minnesota and Detroit. Detroit would still win a tiebreaker over Minnesota, so the Vikings likely need to run the table (where I put the odds at 22%).