The Detroit Lions won on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, lowering their magic number to two over the Packers and just one over the Vikings to clinch the NFC North. In other words, the Lions just need a combination of wins and Packers losses to total two and a combination of wins and Vikings losses to total one. A win this week over the Giants with a Packers loss to the Bears would clinch the NFC North title this week.
But regardless of the scenario to win the division this week, the Lions’ playoff odds actually took a hit by way of Week 14’s outcomes. Here’s a look at several prediction models and their changes after last week’s results:
75.1 percent playoff odds (-5.4%)
63.8 percent NFC North crown (-5.7%)
Football Outsiders has always been the most cruel to the Lions and that hasn’t changed here. The Lions make the playoffs in their prediction model just three out of four times now, and their division chances have shot down all the way to 63.8 percent. The majority of the reason for this fall was the win by the Packers over the Seahawks. Football Outsiders views the Packers as a much better team than the Lions (7th in DVOA compared to Lions’ 26th), and with an easier schedule to boot, the Packers could easily be in a win-and-get-in situation against the Lions in Week 17. Green Bay now possesses a 32.4 percent chance to win the North.
84 percent playoff odds (-6%)
75 percent NFC North crown (-7%)
The Lions saw a very similar dip in their odds on FiveThirtyEight. Of course, the positive spin in all of this are the Lions’ renewed chances at a first round bye. With losses by both the Seahawks and the Cowboys, Detroit now has a 26 percent chance at earning one of the top two seeds in the NFC, which suddenly feels like a real possibility and not just a pipe dream.
New York Times — The Upshot
87 percent playoff odds (no change)
80 percent NFC North crown (+2%)
The Upshot provides a little different look at the situation. While Detroit’s overall playoff odds remain unchanged, their chance at the division actually went up two percent according to their model. This makes sense from the perspective that they can actually clinch the division in any of the remaining weeks of the season. They can even clinch the division without any help before Week 17 if they win their next two games—admittedly a tall order against the Giants and Cowboys.
But what this model also points out is how little the Lions were helped by the rest of the NFC for a Wild Card spot. Since their playoff chances didn’t change, but their division title chances went up, you can assume that their Wild Card chances dropped, even though it doesn’t outright say that. This makes sense considering Washington, Minnesota, Green Bay, New York, Atlanta and Tampa Bay all won in Week 14. The race is getting tighter, and the Lions’ margin for error is smaller.
Other playoff odds sources:
- 72.7 percent playoff odds per numberFire (-6.1%)
- 87.2 percent chance via PredictionMachine.com (-1.2%)
- 80 percent chance via PlayoffStatus.com (-6%)
It’s undeniable that the Lions’ playoff odds were hurt by Week 14’s results. This should come as no surprise considering our Week 14 rooting guide went 1-6 last week.
Still, if you’re eyeing loftier goals than simply making the playoffs, you could actually consider Week 14 a success. The Lions’ chances at a first round bye and home field advantage through most, if not all of the playoffs, skyrocketed this week. They have a 19.8 percent chance at a bye according to Football Outsiders, 26 percent according to FiveThirtyEight, and 34 percent according to The Upshot. In two of those three models, their chances at a bye are larger than their odds of missing the playoffs. So maybe things aren’t all that bad after last week.