<
>

Playoff Picture: Detroit Lions Week 15

Each week from here to the end of the season, we’ll assess Detroit’s standing in the NFC North and NFC wild card races.

And as of now, the Lions are right in the middle of the hunt in both situations.

Detroit

Record: 9-4

Remaining opponents record: 21-18

Seed as of now: No. 6

Games left: Minnesota, at Chicago, at Green Bay.

NFC North:

Green Bay

Record: 10-3

Remaining opponents record: 18-21

Games left: at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay, Detroit

Seed as of now: No. 2

Lions interests: Barring a complete collapse by the Packers or the Lions, Detroit and Green Bay appear headed for a Week 17 showdown in Green Bay for the divisional title and maybe much more. The only way the Lions can clinch the division before Week 17 would be if Green Bay lost its next two games and Detroit wins its next two, which would put the Lions one game up in the division entering Week 17. If I figured this out correctly, the Lions would win the fourth tiebreaker, which would be conference record. Considering Green Bay’s opponents the next two weeks, that seems unlikely. So just plan on a divisional showdown in Wisconsin in Week 17.

NFC:

Top seed/NFC bye:

Arizona

Record: 10-3

Seed as of now: No. 1

Remaining opponents record: 22-17

Who they have left: at St. Louis, vs. Seattle, at San Francisco

What needs to happen for the Lions to get the No. 1 seed: The Lions need to win out and then hope neither Arizona or Seattle win two of its final three games. The Lions do not hold the tiebreaker against either team, so they would need both teams to struggle down the stretch -- and they play each other in Week 16 -- for that to happen. That’s the only way Detroit can nab the top overall seed.

Wild-card race:

Philadelphia

Record: 9-4

Remaining opponents record: 16-23

Games left: Dallas, at Washington, at New York Giants

Seed as of now: No. 3

Lions interests: The Lions and Eagles are tied in overall record and if these two teams finish with the same overall record, Detroit will win the tiebreak over Philadelphia (conference record). Where the Eagles could help the Lions, though, is by knocking off Dallas this weekend. Do that and it gives the Cowboys a fifth loss with a tougher schedule down the stretch than the Eagles.

Dallas

Record: 9-4

Remaining opponents record: 21-18

Games left: at Philadelphia, Indianapolis, at Washington

Seed as of now: Out of playoffs

Lions interests: The best interest of the Lions is a Dallas loss on Sunday to Philadelphia. This would give the Cowboys five losses, and they still have to play the Colts. If Dallas and Detroit finish with the same record, the Lions have the tiebreaker (conference record, where the Lions are 7-2 right now and the Cowboys are 6-4). The one area where a Dallas win over Philadelphia would be better is if the Cowboys can win the NFC East. Dallas has been great on the road and mediocre at home this season, so a home playoff game in Jerry World wouldn’t be as daunting as going to Philadelphia, for instance.

San Francisco

Record: 7-6

Remaining opponents record: 27-12

Games left: at Seattle, San Diego, Arizona

Seed as of now: Out of playoffs

Lions interests: San Francisco’s loss to Oakland did major damage to the Niners’ playoff hopes. They now sit two games back of Seattle, Detroit and Dallas and would need a collapse of at least two of those teams plus winning out to reach the playoffs. San Francisco can help Detroit immensely, though, if it can beat Seattle and/or Arizona.

Seattle

Record: 9-4

Remaining opponents record: 23-16

Games left: San Francisco, at Arizona, St. Louis

Seed as of now: No. 5 seed

Lions interests: Seattle owns the tiebreaker over the Lions (common opponents) but has the toughest schedule the rest of the way other than San Francisco. Detroit and the rest of the NFC would benefit greatly if either San Francisco or St. Louis could surprise the Seahawks in Seattle, because no team in the conference wants to have to go to Seattle during the playoffs. If the Seahawks were to win out, it would have no worse than the No. 2 overall seed and would be the No. 1 seed if it finishes with the same record as Green Bay or Philadelphia.