The Detroit Lions already helped themselves earlier in the week with a big division win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving. They also got a small amount of help with the Dallas Cowboys’ win over Washington, who currently holds the second Wild Card spot. But with a ton of football games left to be played, nothing is set in stone and the Lions could always use a little help. Here’s who to root for during the rest of Week 12.
Packers (4-6) at Eagles (5-5) - 8:30 p.m. - ESPN (Monday)
Who to root for: Eagles
This is a tough one. The Lions benefit from a loss for either team. A Packers loss gives Detroit a three game lead over Green Bay in the division with just five games left. An Eagles loss would push the Lions three games ahead of Philly in the Wild Card race (including the head-to-head tiebreaker). In the end, however, the Lions goal right now should be to win the division, and a Green Bay loss would essentially make it a two-team race in the NFC North.
Pretty important games:
Cardinals (4-5-1) at Falcons (6-4) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Falcons
This is another tricky one. The Falcons lead the division, so a win wouldn’t hurt the Lions in the Wild Card race, but it would affect the Lions’ seeding if they win the division. However, at this point it looks like the Seahawks and Cowboys are headed toward first-round byes, so seeding between 3 and 4 isn’t that important.
Therefore, root for the Cardinals to lose to push them further out of the Wild Card race and to give the Lions some Wild Card insurance in case they fall out of first in the North.
Giants (7-3) at Browns (0-11) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Browns
The Giants have a comfortable lead in the first wild card position and it would really help the Lions out if they started losing some games. As much as I want to see the Browns go 0-16, I’d love it even more to see an upset here. It probably won’t happen, but it would really help the Lions out.
Rams (4-6) at Saints (4-6) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Rams
This is really a matter of preference, since both teams have an equal record and pose the same Wild Card threat to the Lions. In the end, the Lions already have the tiebreaker over the Rams, so a Los Angeles win is a little less harmful for Detroit. Considering the Lions could lose to the Saints next week, best to make that potential loss a little less harmful.
Seahawks (7-2-1) at Buccaneers (5-5) - 4:05 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Seahawks
As much as I’d love to see the Seahawks nosedive and the Lions to make a run at a first-round bye in the playoffs, I just don’t see that as a realistic outcome. Instead, Lions fans should hope Seattle nips this Buccaneers problem in the bud. Tampa has won four of its last six games and is just a game out of a Wild Card spot. With the Lions’ first priority being a postseason berth, let’s worry about seeding later and open up Wild Card possibilities.
Games to keep an eye on:
Panthers (4-6) at Raiders (8-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Who to root for: Raiders
Always root AFC over NFC, but with the Panthers already 2.5 games behind the Lions, they have a long way to go before they’re a true threat to the Lions’ postseason chances. Still, it would provide a little bit of relief to know that Cam Newton would have a near impossible hill to climb with five games left.
Games that don’t matter:
Jaguars (2-8) at Bills (5-5) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
49ers (1-9) at Dolphins (6-4) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Chargers (4-6) at Texans (6-4) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Titans (5-6) at Bears (2-8) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Bengals (3-6-1) at Ravens (5-5) - 1 p.m ET - CBS
Patriots (8-2) at Jets (3-7) - 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Chiefs (7-3) at Broncos (7-3) - 8:30 p.m. - NBC
If all of the above games go as the rooting guide pleases, here’s what the NFC playoff race will look like after Week 12.
1. Dallas Cowboys (10-1)
2. Seattle Seahawks (8-2-1)
3. Detroit Lions (7-4)
4. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
5. New York Giants (7-4)
6. Washington (6-4-1)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (6-5)
8. Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
9. Los Angeles Rams (5-6)
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
Still in the hunt: Cardinals (4-6-1), Saints (4-7), Packers (4-7), Panthers (4-7)