It’s obviously no surprise that the Detroit Lions’ loss to the New York Giants was bad for their playoff chances. Combine that with a Green Bay Packers dramatic win over the Chicago Bears, and you’d think Week 15 was a complete disaster for the Lions and dreams of the postseason. The NFC North looks to be slipping away, and the only thing that can save Detroit now—unless for an unlikely scenario in Week 16—is if the Lions just flat-out beat the Packers in the final game of the season.
However, later in the week, the Lions actually managed to get some significant help from around the NFL. Thanks to timely losses by Washington and Tampa Bay, the Lions now have a real chance at a backup plan if, indeed, the division title hopes fall apart. Let’s take a look at how their overall playoff odds changed after Week 15.
71.1 percent playoff odds (-4.1%)
46.3 percent NFC North crown (-17.5%)
The Lions’ playoff odds took just a 4.1 percent hit after Week 15, but their division title chanced plummeted nearly 20 percent. In fact, Football Outsiders now has the Packers as the favorite to win the division, despite the fact that Detroit could potentially clinch the North before Week 17 even happens.
But the interesting thing here is that despite this huge turnaround in division odds, the Lions’ playoff odds remain quite high. Now Football Outsiders has Detroit’s chances at a Wild Card spot all the way at 24.8 percent. In fact, they could wrap up (at least) a Wild Card spot with a few different scenario this week:
77 percent playoff odds (-7%)
59 percent NFC North crown (-16%)
Though FiveThirtyEight is still a bit more optimistic about the Lions’ chances than Football Outsiders, the net loss during Week 15 was nearly identical. Detroit still holds a 59-41 advantage to Green Bay in winning the division, but FiveThirtyEight only holds their Wild Card chances at just 18 percent.
New York Times — The Upshot
80 percent playoff odds (-7%)
61 percent NFC North crown (-19%)
New York Times remains the most positive about the Lions’ overall playoff chances, but they, interestingly, dropped the Lions the most in their NFC title chances by percentage.
In the Times’ prediction model, the Lions still make the playoffs four out of five times, and 19 percent of the time, it’s through the Wild Card, whose odds more than doubled from 7 percent last week.
Other playoff odds sources:
- 66.3 percent playoff odds per numberFire (-6.4%)
- 80.0 percent chance via PredictionMachine.com (-7.2%)
- 75 percent chance via PlayoffStatus.com (-5%)
While it’s looking very likely that the Lions’ division will come down to Week 17, Detroit has a lot of rooting to do this week if they want a backup plan. Chief among their concerns is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game with the New Orleans Saints. According to FiveThirtyEight, a Bucs loss would increase the Lions’ playoff chances by 10 percent alone—to a whopping 87 percent. Their Wild Card odds would push from 18 to 28 percent. According to the New York times, that same outcome would increase Detroit’s playoff chances to 89 percent (+9%) and their Wild Card odds to 28 percent (+9%).
Believe it or not, that game now has more playoff implications for the Lions than the game between the Packers and Vikings. We are all Saints fans this week.