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NFL playoff picture: Lions not eliminated from NFC North race just yet

The Detroit Lions aren't technically out of playoff contention, but they need some serious help to get back into the NFC North title race.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In a matter of weeks, the Detroit Lions have managed to go from third to ninth in the NFC playoff picture. They were just recently among the division leaders, but now the Lions are a 7-7 team in need of some serious help to end up in the postseason. Just how dire is the situation? Let's start with a look at the current NFC playoff picture:

  1. Seattle Seahawks (12-2)
  2. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (8-6)
  4. Chicago Bears (8-6)
  5. Carolina Panthers (10-4)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
  7. Arizona Cardinals (9-5)
  8. Green Bay Packers (7-6-1)
  9. Detroit Lions (7-7)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

Bye: Seahawks, Saints | Wild-card round: Eagles vs. 49ers, Bears vs. Panthers

With the Chicago Bears leading the NFC North at 8-6, they can actually clinch the division in Week 16 with a win and losses by Detroit and Green Bay. The Green Bay Packers can't clinch the division this week, but wins by both Chicago and Green Bay would eliminate the Lions from playoff contention no matter what happens in Detroit's game against the New York Giants.

The problem for the Lions is that the Bears and Packers play each other in Week 17. If both teams win this week, there's no scenario where the Lions can make the playoffs. However, if one team loses on Sunday and the Lions beat New York, Detroit will at least have a chance to win the NFC North going into the final week. And if both Chicago and Green Bay get beat this week, the Lions will once again control their own destiny if they take down the Giants.

In short, the Lions need to win out to even dream of making the playoffs. Also, the Lions need help this week from the Pittsburgh Steelers (at Green Bay) and/or Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Chicago) for there to be a scenario where they can make the playoffs. It certainly seems like a long shot at this point, and I know the playoffs aren't exactly the main concern for most Lions fans right now, but the season isn't technically a lost cause just yet.

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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.