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NFC Playoff picture: Lions inch closer to a 2-seed

The Lions suddenly have a very real chance at earning a first round bye.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Entering Week 12, these were the standings in the NFC playoff picture:

Seed Team Record entering week Result this week
1 Dallas 9-1 Beat Washington, 31-26
2 Seattle 7-2-1 Lost to Tampa Bay, 5-14
3 Detroit 6-4 Beat Minnesota, 16-13
4 Atlanta 6-4 Beat Arizona, 38-19
5 New York 7-3 Won at Cleveland, 27-13
6 Washington 6-3-1 Lost at Dallas, 26-31
7 Minnesota 6-4 Lost at Detroit, 13-16
8 Tampa Bay 5-5 Won at Seattle, 14-5
9 Philadelphia 5-5 Plays Green Bay on Monday
10 Arizona 4-5-1 Lost at Atlanta, 19-38

Although Philadelphia still needs to play on Monday Night Football, results from Thanksgiving weekend have already altered the scenarios for teams looking in. Only the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys delivered wins that helped the Detroit Lions. Accounting for games already completed (Sunday Night game is an AFC game -- Kansas City at Denver — and therefore not relevant):

Seed Team Record after this week Notes
1 Dallas 10-1 Projected NFC East Champion
2 Seattle 7-3-1 Projected NFC West Champion
3 Detroit 7-4 Projected NFC North Champion
4 Atlanta 7-4 Projected NFC South Champion
5 New York 8-3 Projected Wild Card
6 Washington 6-4-1 Projected Wild Card
7 Tampa Bay 6-5
8 Minnesota 6-5
9 Philadelphia 5-5* Plays Green Bay on Monday
10 New Orleans 5-6 Beat Los Angeles, 49-21

Despite a loss to Tampa Bay at home, Seattle is still a half game ahead of Detroit and would have a first round bye along with Dallas. Detroit holds the conference record tiebreaker over Atlanta, and therefore remains the third seed. The two Wild Card teams are still New York (won) and Washington (lost), with possibly three 6-5 teams a half game back if Philadelphia beats Green Bay.

  • If Green Bay wins on Monday:

Philadelphia drops to 5-6 with a conference record of 3-6. Green Bay moves up to 5-6 with a conference record of 4-4. New Orleans becomes the 9th seed and Green Bay becomes the 10th seed via the head-to-head tiebreaker over Philadelphia (the Eagles fall out of the top ten).

  • If Philadelphia wins on Monday:

Philadelphia moves to 6-5 with a conference record of 4-5. Three teams would be 6-5, but Tampa Bay would have the best conference record and remain the 7th seed. With an identical overall record to Minnesota, Philadelphia jumps them by virtue of the head to head tiebreaker; the Eagles beat the Vikings 21-10 earlier this season at home. Philadelphia would become the 8th seed, Minnesota would drop to the 9th seed, and New Orleans would remain the 10th seed.

If we have to bottom-line it: yes, Lions fans can feel free to root against the Packers as per usual.

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