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NFL playoff scenarios: Lions can't clinch NFC North this week

The Detroit Lions will have to wait until Week 16 at the earliest to have a chance to clinch the NFC North.


The stars seemed to be aligning for the Detroit Lions to have a shot at clinching the NFC North title on Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens. They simply needed to beat the Philadelphia Eagles and have the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears both lose a game before the Monday night matchup, which would have been quite the party if the opportunity to clinch existed.

Unfortunately, nothing went the Lions' way in Week 14. They lost to the Eagles, and the Packers and Bears both won their games. As a result, no scenario exists for the Lions to clinch the NFC North in Week 15. They are now tied for first with the Bears at 7-6, and the Packers are just half a game behind them at 6-6-1.

At the earliest, the Lions can clinch the division crown in Week 16. There are two scenarios for this to happen. The first is pretty straightforward. If the Lions beat the Ravens on Monday night and then beat the New York Giants six days later, they will win the NFC North if the Packers and Bears both drop a game in the next two weeks. If the Lions go 1-1 in their next two games, they need the Packers and Bears to both go on a two-game losing streak to clinch in Week 16.

Considering what has happened in Green Bay and Chicago this season, it honestly feels like the Lions should already have the NFC North clinched. Instead, though, thanks to their inability to consistently win games in the second half of the season, they are on the verge of losing control of first place altogether. Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers could both be back this week, meaning the pressure is on for the Lions. Another slip-up could effectively end their hopes of winning the NFC North.

The time has arrived for the Lions to show if they really want to be called division champions and if they really want to host a playoff game. Despite how poorly they've played in the last month, the Lions still control their own destiny, and they can make sure the Packers and Bears don't even get a chance to potentially come back and win the NFC North.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.