The Detroit Lions' playoff chances may have been thoroughly dashed by the Packers on a gloomy Thursday night, but that doesn't mean they don't have meaningful games down the stretch. In fact, if we're talking about the race for a good NFL Draft pick, these final four games are absolutely essential for the Lions. Three opponents on the remaining schedule have identical records to the Lions, meaning a lot can and will change in the draft order depending on the outcome of each game. Here's a look at the Lions' upcoming opponents.
This game was a bit closer than the final score suggests. It was a 10-3 game early in the second half, but the Rams defense fell apart in the final two quarters. In all, St. Louis allowed a total of 524 yards, including 175 yards rushing.
Offensively, the Rams remained anemic. Nick Foles had just 146 yards on 35 passing attempts and threw one interception. Todd Gurley had one carry for 34 yards, but his other eight rushes went for a collective 7 yards.
The loss was the Rams' fifth in a row and puts them nearly out of playoff contention in the NFC.
The Saints surprisingly held their own against the undefeated Carolina Panthers. In fact, they took the lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game. But an 11-play touchdown drive by the Panthers regained the lead for good, and Drew Brees' comeback attempt fell short at midfield.
Overall, though, this has to be considered a positive step in the right direction for New Orleans. Although there are still a lot of problems on defense (allowed 497 yards), Brees and the Saints offense finally looked potent again. Brees had three touchdowns on the day, and his favorite target, Brandin Cooks, had 104 yards and one of those touchdowns.
Week 16 vs. 49ers (4-8) - beat Bears, 26-20 (OT)
The Blaine Gabbert era is upon us, and He is glorious. Gabbert has given the 49ers a surprisingly competitive edge, and it finally resulted in a win this week over the shellshocked Chicago Bears. Gabbert's passing statline won't blow you away (18-32, 196 yards, 1 TD), but it was the work he did with his feet that has earned him the nickname Blaine Gabbernick.
That 44-yard run tied the game with under two minutes remaining. But Gabbert wasn't finished. After regulation came to a close, Gabbert came out for his encore: a 71-yard touchdown bomb to Torrey Smith to end the game.
Week 17 at Bears (5-7) - lost to 49ers, 20-26 (OT)
On the other side of the same game, the Bears let a crucial game slip through their hands. After Gabbert's big scamper, the Bears still had a great chance to win the game in regulation. A huge kickoff return from Deonte Thompson put the Bears immediately in field goal position, which Robbie Gould promptly wasted six plays later, shanking a 36-yard field goal wide, wide left.
After the teams shared three-and-outs in overtime, the Bears quickly forgot to cover Torrey Smith and the game was over.
On the positive side, the Bears seemed to have found some rhythmn in the running game, as Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford teamed up for 143 yards rushing on 32 carries. But it was the two huge plays allowed by the defense that ultimately sunk the Bears' chances.
Chicago now sits at 5-7 and have their work cut out for them to rejoin the playoff race.