Scoreboard watching is nothing new for Detroit sports fans. By August, Tigers fans are usually keeping a close eye on what is happening each night with other AL Central teams, and as the NHL season winds down, every point can make a difference in the standings for the Red Wings. For the Lions, the only form of scoreboard watching in the last decade has consisted of taking note of what games will affect the draft order. This year, however, the Lions are in the thick of a playoff race, and keeping an eye on how the other teams in wild card contention are doing is part of the thrill of chasing a playoff spot.
In Week 14, the games to keep an eye on -- aside from Lions vs. Vikings -- are as follows: Bears at Broncos, Falcons at Panthers and Giants at Cowboys. Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas are all 7-5, whereas New York is 6-6. After the jump is info on each game and an explanation of which teams you should root for.
Bears at Broncos (4:05 p.m., FOX)
Sunday we can all be Tim Tebow fans. I've been on the bandwagon for a few weeks now since he is currently my fantasy football team's starting quarterback (I got desperate after Matt Schaub went down for the year). Even if you're not on the bandwagon, all Lions fans should be behind him this week when he takes on the Bears. A Broncos victory would essentially serve as a Lions victory considering how close Detroit and Chicago are in the standings. Not only would a Denver victory drop the Bears to 7-6, but it would give the Lions a two-game edge in the common games tiebreaker if Detroit beats Minnesota. A Lions victory coupled with a Broncos win would be huge as far as the wild card race is concerned.
Root for: The Fighting Tebows
Falcons at Panthers (1 p.m., FOX)
The Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Lions since they won in Detroit earlier this season. As a result, the Lions can't edge out the Falcons if both teams finish with the same record. Considering the state of the Bears, a tie with the Falcons might be more about seeding than anything, but you never know what could happen down the stretch. If Cam Newton and the Panthers could take down Atlanta, the Lions would be able to pass the Falcons in the standings with a win over Minnesota.
Root for: The Fighting Newtons
Giants at Cowboys (8:20 p.m., NBC)
There is an interesting dynamic with this particular game. On the one hand, the Lions wouldn't have a problem being tied with the Cowboys in the wild card race considering they beat Dallas earlier in the season. On the other hand, it's probably best for the Lions if Dallas buries the Giants and runs away with the NFC East. That way the Giants would fall out of the wild card picture. It's not like the Lions can gain homefield over the Cowboys anyway, so it's better if Dallas wins and puts New York another step behind in the wild card race.
Stadium implosion Cowboys
The Lions got a lot of help last week in the form of the Bears, Falcons, Cowboys and Giants losing, which helped soften the blow of Detroit's loss to the Saints. If the Lions win on Sunday and get help in the form of the Broncos, Panthers and Cowboys winning, this is what the NFC standings would look like going into Week 15:
1. Packers (13-0 or 12-1)
2. 49ers (11-2 or 10-3)
3. Saints (10-3 or 9-4)
4. Cowboys (8-5)
5. Lions (8-5)
6. Bears (7-6)
7. Falcons (7-6)
8. Giants (6-7)
It might be asking too much for every little thing to go the Lions' way, but if they take care of business against Minnesota, they will be in very good position in the wild card hunt going into the final three weeks of the regular season.