NFL playoff picture: Lions closing in on NFC North title

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are in position to win the NFC North for the first time ever.

After taking care of business on Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions got a big assist on Sunday from the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota took down the Chicago Bears in overtime, giving the Lions a solid cushion in the NFC North. The Lions are now a full game ahead of the Bears in the standings, which really means that they have a two-game lead when you factor in that Detroit owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. What's more, the Lions are up by a game and a half over the Green Bay Packers after beating them last week.

What all of this means is that no matter what happens in Week 14, the Lions will remain in first place in the NFC North going into Week 15. This also means that the Lions are still in control of the No. 3 seed in the NFC going into Week 14:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (10-1)
  2. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
  3. Detroit Lions (7-5)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
  5. Carolina Panthers (9-3)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
  8. Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
  9. Chicago Bears (6-6)
  10. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)

Bye: Seahawks, Saints | Wild-card round: Lions vs. 49ers, Cowboys vs. Panthers

With only four games to play, the NFC North is the Lions' division to lose. As noted by Michael David Smith, regardless of what the Bears and Packers do, the Lions will win the NFC North if they win three of their final four games. What's more, if the Lions beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, they could be in position to clinch on Monday night in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens if the Bears and Packers each lose a game in the next two weeks.

Needless to say, the idea of the Lions winning their division for the first time since it became the NFC North is on the verge of becoming a reality. The idea of the Lions hosting a playoff game is also on the verge of becoming a reality. Thanks to key injuries and general mediocrity with the other teams in the division, this is setting up to be the Lions' year to take the crown in the NFC North. If they can't finish strong down the stretch and actually win the NFC North, I'm not sure if they ever will, and I certainly can't imagine that they will ever get a better chance than this.

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