It’s comes as no surprise to Detroit Lions fans that this week is wildly important for their team. A win guarantees that they’ll at least retain a two-game lead in the division with just two games remaining. It would also keep the dream of a one-seed alive with a chance to make a serious move the following week when they face the conference-leading Dallas Cowboys.
But this game isn’t just important to the Lions; it’s the most important game to the entire league. According to FiveThirtyEight, the matchup between the Lions and Giants has the most playoff implications of any Week 15 game.
For the Lions, the difference between a win and a loss is a full 27 percent swing in playoff chances: 98 percent odds if they win, just a 71 percent chance if they lose. But this game is actually more important for the Giants. A win pushes their playoff chances to a near-guaranteed 93 percent, but a loss plummets them all the way to 54 percent, an absolutely crucial 39 percent swing.
But the impact of this game goes well beyond the two participants. The Packers are the third-most affected team of this game, rooting for a Lions loss that would move their playoff chances from 31 to 34 percent. However, Washington, the Buccaneers, Vikings and Falcons are all actually pushing for a Lions victory, as it would give them a better shot at the Wild Card.
It may seem counterintuitive for the Vikings to root for a Lions win, seeing as that would officially end their NFC North title hopes, but their best shot to earn a playoff berth remains through a Wild Card spot. Minnesota has the tiebreaker over the Giants, so they have a much better chance at catching them than the Lions, who have defeated them twice this year.
With so much on the line this week, it’s no surprise that the Lions drew FOX’s top broadcasting team: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. They know that not only will the allure of a battle of 9-4 teams draw a lot of viewers, but the playoff implications will also keep the eyes of all NFC teams still in contention on MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon.