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NFC playoff picture: Lions can clinch playoff spot with win over Cowboys

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One more win and the Lions are in.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoff-Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions needed some help to get closer to a playoff spot on Saturday, and for awhile, it looked like they weren’t going to get any. The Packers plowed the Vikings, and the Bears stumbled against Washington.

However, the biggest game of the week was the Buccaneers vs. Saints. The Lions desperately needed a Tampa loss to drastically increase their Wild Card chances and the Bucs proceeded to lose against New Orleans. Here’s an updated look at the playoff standings:

NFC playoff standings

Position Team Record Week 17 opponent Notes
Position Team Record Week 17 opponent Notes
1 Dallas 13-3 Clinched 1 seed, bye
2 Atlanta 11-5 Clinched 2 seed, bye
3 Seattle 10-5-1 Clinched 3 seed
4 Green Bay 9-6 at Detroit Clinched playoff berth
5 New York 10-5 Clinched 5-seed
6 Detroit 9-6 vs. Green Bay Clinched playoff berth

The Lions remain in a playoff spot and even jump to the three seed, but their playoff clinching scenarios are now a little more limited. There still remains an opportunity for the Lions to get into the postseason without winning another game, but that will rely on Week 17 results.

Because of the Bucs loss, the Lions can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Cowboys on Monday. Here’s a look at all of the Wild Card clinching scenarios for Detroit:

Lions clinch playoff spot with:

  1. DET win or tie vs. DAL OR
  2. WAS loss or tie vs. NYG in Week 17

If the Lions want to host a playoff game, there’s only one scenario for that. To clinch the division, the Lions need to defeat the Packers in Week 17.

But that’s not the end of possibilities. Because the Seahawks were upset by the Cardinals, the No. 2 seed in the NFC is still up for grabs. Here’s how the Lions can still grab the two-seed and a first-round bye.

Lions clinch two-seed IF:

  1. Lions win over Cowboys AND Packers AND
  2. Falcons lose or tie vs. Saints

So, the Lions find themselves in a strange scenario. Though they were undeniably helped a bit by today’s results, they could still fall anywhere between second place in the NFC or miss out on the playoffs completely. All it takes is one more win for the Lions and they’re in, but chances are at least pretty good that they can get in without a win. Go Lions (and Giants).

Or put more succinctly: