After watching the Lions give away what would have been a huge victory over the Giants, we have to move on. Thursday features the Lions and Packers at Ford Field, and this game will be just as big if not bigger. Although the chances of Detroit winning the NFC North are very slim considering Green Bay now is 9-1, every game counts for the Lions when it comes to the wild card.
As of right now, the NFC Wild Card picture looks like this:
- New York Giants (7-3)
- Detroit Lions (6-4)
- Washington Redskins (5-5)
- Arizona Cardinals (5-5)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
- Carolina Panthers (4-6)
- Minnesota Vikings (4-6)
- New Orleans Saints (4-6)
- Chicago Bears (4-6)
As you can see from above, Detroit would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Considering there are still 6 weeks left in the season, the Wild Cards standings shown above will likely change a lot. When you look at Detroit's lead in the second Wild Card slot, it is only a game over 3 teams. That means that a loss to Green Bay accompanied by a win by just 1 of those teams pushes Detroit into a tie. Looking even further down the list, considering there are 4 teams with a 4-6 record, which is just 2 games back of Detroit, a loss at any time in this season could do a lot of damage.
Since a loss on Thursday would hurt the Lions' playoff chances quite a bit, I am inclined to say that it is a must-win. Even disregarding the standings or anything like that, the Lions have to start winning again to regain confidence. Losing 3 straight with a tough schedule still to come can only mean bad things, and I really would expect a downward spiral.
Obviously, a loss doesn't completely kill hopes of the playoffs, but it just puts Detroit at such a disadvantage that I don't think they could overcome it. With that being said, a win over a 9-1 team would do wonders for the Lions and really could jump start the second half of the season. It would take an all around great game, but hopefully in front of a national audience the Lions can put something great together on Thursday.