The Detroit Lions have already clinched a playoff spot, and they control their own destiny for the NFC North title and a first-round bye. With that in mind, they don't necessarily need to worry too much about what happens in other games in Week 17. As far as ending up with a first-round bye or being stuck with a wild-card spot goes, it simply comes down to whether or not the Lions can beat the Green Bay Packers.
Of course, if the Lions do beat the Packers, they could end up with the top seed in the entire NFC if they get some help. That's mainly where the rooting guide comes in this week. Take a look:
The only way this game will be relevant to the Lions is if they tie the Packers. If that happens, then the Lions would potentially need the Cowboys to lose or tie in order to still end up with a first-round bye. If the Lions tie and the Cowboys win, for example, then Detroit could be stuck with the No. 3 seed.
Root for: Redskins
If the Lions want any shot at the No. 1 seed in the NFC, they need the Cardinals to lose or tie. It's as simple as that.
Root for: 49ers
Similarly, the Lions need a Seahawks loss or tie in order to have a shot at the No. 1 seed.
Root for: Rams
If the Lions beat the Packers and everything else goes according to plan, the NFC playoff picture will look something like this at the end of the regular season:
- Detroit Lions (12-4) *NFC North champion*
- Dallas Cowboys (11-5) *NFC East champion*
- Seattle Seahawks (11-5) *NFC West champion*
- Atlanta Falcons (7-9) *NFC South champion*
- Arizona Cardinals (11-5) *Wild card*
- Green Bay Packers (11-5) *Wild card*
Bye: Lions, Cowboys | Wild-card round: Seahawks vs. Packers, Falcons vs. Cardinals
As if getting the top seed isn't nice enough, the Seahawks and Packers would be matched up in the wild-card round in this scenario, taking one of those teams out of the playoffs right off the bat. If the Packers win, they'd have to come to Ford Field to play the Lions in the divisional round, but if they lose, Detroit would host the winner of the NFC South champion/Cardinals matchup. That's a pretty favorable scenario either way.
Getting the top seed doesn't exactly seem all that likely, of course, but the good news is that the Lions will at least get a first-round bye if they can just beat the Packers at Lambeau Field. There's a big difference between getting a bye (and a week off) and having to win an extra game to get to the Super Bowl, so it's nice to know that the Lions control their own destiny with something as important as that. At least when it comes to simply getting a first-round bye, it's solely up to them and no outside help is necessary.