NFL Playoff Scenarios: How Lions Can Clinch No. 5 Seed In NFC

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Quarterbacks Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions shake hands after the game at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Now that the Detroit Lions are officially in the NFL playoffs, the only thing they have to worry about in Week 17 is what seed they will be. Because the Lions are locked into one of the two wild cards, they are guaranteed to be the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. What exact seed the Lions will end up with comes down to what happens with them and the Atlanta Falcons in the next week. The Falcons play on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, and the outcome of that game will have a big effect on the seeding in the NFC. Scenarios for the seeding as it relates to the Lions are after the jump.

If Atlanta beats New Orleans + Tampa Bay (in Week 17), Lions are No. 6 seed win or lose at Green Bay

If Atlanta beats New Orleans + loses to Tampa Bay, Lions are No. 5 seed with win at Green Bay

If Atlanta loses to New Orleans + beats Tampa Bay, Lions are No. 5 seed with win at Green Bay

If Atlanta loses to New Orleans + Tampa Bay, Lions are No. 5 seed win or lose at Green Bay

Basically, the Lions are the No. 5 seed if they win at the Packers and the Falcons slip up once in their final two games. If the Falcons slip up in both of their final games, the Lions are for sure the No. 5 seed. At the same time, if the Falcons win both of their final games, the Lions are locked into the No. 6 seed. The same goes for if the Falcons win one of their final games and the Lions lose at Green Bay.

Needless to say, the Lions should be rooting for the Saints on Monday night. A Saints win would mean that the Lions control their own destiny in terms of clinching the No. 5 seed. While the difference between the fifth and sixth seeds may seem small, it could be the difference between playing at the Saints/49ers and playing at the Giants/Cowboys in the wild-card round. Playing the NFC East champion would be much better for the Lions' chances of winning, so getting the No. 5 seed could end up being a very big deal for Detroit.

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