With the Detroit Lions taking on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, they have a chance to greatly help their standing in the NFC playoff picture. The Cardinals are the top team in the NFC right now, but the Lions can take over the No. 1 seed with a win on Sunday. That's obviously the most important game this week, but there are others that could affect the Lions as well. Here's a rundown of which teams you should root for in those games:
Minnesota Vikings (4-5) at Chicago Bears (3-6) | 1 p.m., CBS
It seems highly unlikely that the Vikings will get back into the playoff race, but hey, maybe Adrian Peterson will return in the near future and they will go on enough of a run to keep things interesting. Again, that seems unlikely, but in the interest of not having three teams involved in the NFC North title race, I suppose I'd give the Bears the edge from a rooting standpoint. (Plus, it might be in the best interest of the Lions if the Bears don't feel the need to make any changes to their coaching staff before the Thanksgiving matchup.)
Root for: Bears
Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) at Green Bay Packers (6-3) | 4:25 p.m., FOX
This is the biggest non-Lions game of the week when it comes to the playoff picture. On the one hand, an Eagles win would be bad news from a seeding standpoint, as they would improve to 8-2. But on the flip side, an Eagles win would hand the Packers their fourth loss of the season. At this point, simply winning the NFC North is more important than worrying about seeding, so I'd rather see the Packers lose.
Root for: Eagles
Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-5) | 1 p.m., FOX
Given how awful the NFC South is, it's really a stretch to put the Saints in the seeding category. They will likely have to win out to be a real factor for one of the top two seeds in the NFC. That said, it's always best to root for the AFC team in a game like this, and don't sleep on the comedy angle of the NFC South champion having as few wins as possible. It's entirely possible that the 3-6 Atlanta Falcons could be in first place a week from now. (Let's go ahead and root for Atlanta over the Carolina Panthers for that reason alone.)
Root for: Bengals
Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) | 1 p.m., FOX
This is actually a pretty intriguing matchup, but there's no need for an extended explanation here: go AFC team.
Root for: Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers (5-4) at New York Giants (3-6) | 1 p.m., FOX
Barring a miraculous turnaround, the Giants aren't likely going to be in the mix for a playoff spot. The 49ers, however, could certainly make some noise in the wild-card hunt, so a Giants win would be preferable here.
Root for: Giants
If the Lions beat the Cardinals on Sunday and everything else goes according to plan, the NFC playoff picture will look something like this going into Week 12:
- Detroit Lions (8-2) *NFC North champion*
- Arizona Cardinals (8-2) *NFC West champion*
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-2) *NFC East champion*
- Atlanta Falcons (4-6) *NFC South champion*
- Dallas Cowboys (7-3) *Wild card*
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4) *Wild card*
- Green Bay Packers (6-4)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-5)
There would be a three-way tie for the best record in the NFC, but the Lions and Cardinals would come away with the top two seeds by having a better conference record than the Eagles. After that, the Falcons would amazingly move into a playoff position, and the Cowboys and Seahawks would continue to control the two wild-card spots. This scenario would leave the Packers out of the playoffs and the Lions on top of the entire conference. Yes please.