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NFC Playoff Picture: Week 17 Detroit Lions rooting guide

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Go Giants! Go Giants! Go Giants! Go Giants! Go Giants!

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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 most important game for the Detroit Lions is their own. A win over the Green Bay Packers clinches both a playoff berth and the division title, meaning the Lions would get their first home playoff game since moving to Ford Field in 2002. However, there are a few other games that could impact the Lions’ path to the Super Bowl. So here’s who the Lions should be rooting for before they take the field on Sunday night.

Must-watch games:

New York (10-5) at Washington (8-6-1) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX

Who to root for: Giants (or tie)

This is the only game on the slate that has direct implications on whether the Lions make the playoffs or not. The scenario is simple, if the Giants win or tie, Washington is eliminated from playoff contention and the Lions are, at least, guaranteed a spot in the playoffs as a Wild Card.

The only downside to a Giants win is that it also guarantees a playoff spot for the Packers, meaning that the Lions cannot eliminate Green Bay from the postseason with a win on “Sunday Night Football.”

For what it’s worth, a tie in this game clinches a playoff spot for the Lions, but not the Packers. A tie would give a slight opening to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who need seven other exact outcomes on top of a Giants tie to clinch a playoff spot.

Games to keep an eye on:

New Orleans (7-8) at Atlanta (10-5) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX

Who to root for: Saints

Believe it or not, the Lions can still somehow clinch a first-round bye for the playoffs. The first piece of that puzzle is a Falcons loss to the Saints. A loss would drop Atlanta to 10-6, and if the Lions beat the Packers, they’ll also be 10-6. That win would also clinch the tiebreaker for Detroit based on common games record. That means Detroit would finish no lower than a three-seed.

Seattle (9-5-1) at San Francisco (2-13) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX

Who to root for: 49ers

The second, and least-likely, piece to the Lions’ first-round bye scenario is a Seahawks loss to the lowly 49ers. A loss would drop Seattle to 9-6-1 and a victorious Lions team would leap them at 10-6. Again, if the Lions were to only get this scenario, they would finish no lower than a three-seed with a victory. But combine a 49ers win with a Saints win and the Lions are playing for a first-round bye on Sunday night.

Watch out of bitterness:

Cleveland (1-14) at Pittsburgh (10-5) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS

Who to root for: Browns

Cleveland did the unthinkable last week and ruined their chances to join Detroit as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history. So why am I rooting for a Browns win this week? Out of spite. I hope those jerks blow their chances at the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft now.