The Detroit Lions are not going to make the playoffs this year. I hate to be the cold dose of reality this Sunday morning, but it's the world we live in. Though they are not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, they very well could be by the end of Sunday night.
There are still four remaining games for the Lions left on the schedule. Four opportunities for players to show coaches what they've got and justify a roster spot in 2016. Four chances for Jim Caldwell and the rest of the coaching staff to save their job. But after those four games are up, it's offseason time. And offseason means the four month leading up to the NFL Draft. Right now the Lions sit at ninth in the pecking order for the draft. But Sunday's games could drastically change that.
There are currently seven 4-8 teams, so a Lions loss could drastically change their drafting spot. But there's obviously a moral dilemma in rooting for your team to lose. Instead of having an existential crisis about what it means to be a fan and the benefits of long-term and short-term satisfaction, here's a guide to who you should root for in the other games to help out the Lions' draft position.
Root for: Eagles. The Eagles are much more of a threat to fall below the Lions in the standings, especially considering how awful the NFC East is.
Root for: 49ers. Although the Browns have the worst record, it's hard to imagine the Lions catching them. That scenario would involve some sort of Johnny Manziel revolution (unlikely) and a huge collapse from the Lions (slightly more likely). The more 4-8 teams that win on Sunday, the better.
Saints (4-8) at Buccaneers (6-6) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Root for: Saints. This is an easy one. The Bucs are in the midst of a playoff race and are trending up. The Lions are very likely to finish with a worse record than them no matter what happens on Sunday. The Saints are one of those 4-8 teams.
Root for: Titans. As unlikely as it is, a Titans win could be huge. It would add another team to the four-win party and give the Lions another potential team to jump in the draft order.
Root for: Steelers. Let's be honest, the Lions aren't going to finish with a better record than either of these teams, but a Steelers victory pretty much guarantees that.
Root for: Jaguars. LET'S GO, 4-8 TEAMS!
Root for: Chargers. It's another unlikely scenario, as the Chargers are hobbling along to the finish line, while the Chiefs are making a historic run at the playoffs. But, again, an upset by the Chargers would add another four-win team into the mix, giving the Lions another potential team they could leapfrog in the draft order.
Root for: Bears. With two teams tied in record, look for the team with the harder schedule to root for. The Redskins have the Bears, Bills, Eagles and Cowboys ahead of them. All very winnable games. The Bears have the Redskins, Vikings, Buccaneers and Lions. Not too bad, either. But since Washington could potentially win all four games, let's make sure the Bears get a win here. That way when the Lions play Chicago in Week 17, there's no concern Detroit jumps ahead of them in the draft when they beat the Bears. #WeOwnTheBears
Root for: Falcons. Atlanta is falling faster than a ton of bricks (or a ton of feathers in a vacuum. PHYSICS!). They are a real danger to finishing with a worse record than the Lions, especially considering the Lions' easy schedule. Obviously the Panthers are mathematically unreachable for Detroit, so this is an easy choice.
Root for: Ravens. It shouldn't be hard to root against the Seahawks, considering what happened on Monday Night Football earlier in the year. Without that awful loss, the Lions may still be talking playoff race. But alas, let's just root to ruin their playoff chances and help the Lions' draft order at the same time. Two Seahawks, one stone.
Root for: Raiders. The Broncos are unreachable. The Raiders, having essentially dropped out of the playoff race, could be a danger to fall below the Lions in the standings.
Cowboys (4-8) at Packers (8-4) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX
Root for: Cowboys. This is another twofer for the Lions. A Cowboys win not only bumps another four-win team to a five-win team, but it also knocks Green Bay down a peg, which could send their fan base into another, entertaining panic attack. They deserve that -- and more -- after last week's miracle.
Root for: Texans. Houston is somehow back in the playoff race, so the Lions probably won't finish with a better record, but Detroit cannot finish anywhere close to the Patriots, making this choice easy.
Root for: Giants. This is obviously a toss-up since the teams have better records, but the Giants have the more difficult schedule coming up (Miami, Carolina, Minnesota, Philadelphia), meaning they have fewer chances to get wins the rest of the way. Let's get them a win now, so we don't have to worry later.