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NFC Playoff Picture: Lions Currently On The Outside Looking In

There is still an important game between the Giants and Saints tonight before the full post-Week 12 playoff picture will be settled, but it's worth taking a look at right now after what happened on Sunday. The Lions got some help in the form of a Bears loss, but a Falcons win actually propelled them into the second wild card spot, forcing Detroit outside of the NFC playoff picture. Take a look:


1. Green Bay Packers (11-0)

2. San Francisco 49ers (9-2)

3. New Orleans Saints (7-3)

4. Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

5. Chicago Bears (7-4)

6. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)


First-round bye: Packers, 49ers

Saints vs. Falcons

Cowboys vs. Bears

Since the Lions are also 7-4 right now, there is a three-way tie for two wild card spots. The first step in figuring out which teams get the edge in the tiebreaker is getting down to one team per division. To do that, the divisional tiebreaker is applied to the Lions and Bears. The teams split their head-to-head series and have the same record in the NFC North, so it's necessary to go to the next step, which is record in common games. The Bears narrowly hold the edge since they beat the Falcons and the Lions did not. In turn, the Bears would have the fifth seed if the season ended today, and since the Falcons beat the Lions, Atlanta would have the sixth seed.

Of course, there is still another month of football to be played. Not only is it possible that two teams will separate themselves in the wild card race, but the tiebreakers will take shape as the final divisional games and games involving common opponents are played. A lot could change in the coming weeks, but right now it's clear that the Lions' margin for error has essentially disappeared.