Tonight’s matchup on “Monday Night Football” may not seem like much of an intriguing game. Washington currently holds a playoff spot as the second Wild Card with their 7-5-1 record. The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, are a mere 5-8 only technically alive in the playoff race. A long list of unlikely scenarios has to unwind for the Panthers to get to the postseason. Check it out:
The formula for the Panthers to make the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/YrP0w83TRF— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 19, 2016
But if you’re a Detroit Lions fan, this game actually has a lot of value to it. I know most Lions fans are eyeing the division title, and rightfully so considering it’s the simplest and easiest way for the team to clinch a playoff spot. But the Wild Card spot remains a serious contingency plan for Detroit should they lose out. We detail the specifics here, but chief among the Lions’ concerns is Washington. The Lions need Washington to lose two of their last three games to guarantee they’ll finish above them.
As a result, this game has a 10 percent swing in the Lions’ playoff chances, according to the New York Times’ playoff simulator. If Washington wins, the Lions’ playoff chances drop from 75 percent to 70 percent. If Washington loses, the Lions’ playoff chances shoot up to 80 percent.
So root for the Panthers, then root for the Bears again next week.
Here’s the information for tonight’s game:
Time: 8:30 p.m ET
Location: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Online Streaming: WatchESPN
Odds: Washington by 7