The Detroit Lions are relaxing in their respective homes today, and despite their two-game skid, they remain in the conversation for the playoff race. So even though the regular season still has over two full months left, it’s time to start keeping a close eye on those standings.
While you’re watching all of the games Week 7 has to offer, consider rooting for these teams, as they could be crucial down the stretch.
Must watch games:
Ravens (3-3) at Vikings (4-2) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Who to root for: Ravens
This is an easy one. The Minnesota Vikings are currently the division leaders, and even though the Lions have the tiebreaker over them, the Vikes currently hold the better record. And, as always, root for AFC over NFC.
Saints (3-2) at Packers (4-2) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Saints
Even though the Saints now hold the tiebreaker over Detroit, the Lions’ first—and only—goal right now should be to win the division. With or without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are one of the teams currently in the way between the Lions and the top of the NFC North. Down with Green Bay.
Panthers (4-2) at Bears (2-4) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Who to root for: Panthers
At some point, the Lions are going to need the NFC South to take a nosedive, considering that Detroit has now lost to three of four teams in that division. So some may be tempted to root for the Bears in this game. But the North is wide open and the Bears are only two games out. While there’s still a mathematical possibility for Chicago to win the division, you are required to root against them. That’s an order, officer.
Pretty important games:
Cardinals (3-3) at Rams (4-2) (London) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Cardinals
Who knew the Rams were a team the Lions may have to potentially worry about? Who knew that the Cardinals, who were thought to be dead once David Johnson was injured and they lost to the Lions, would bounce back to .500?
Anyways, the Lions hold the tiebreaker of the Cardinals, so a win isn’t quite as harmful as it would be if Los Angeles moved to 5-2.
Cowboys (2-3) at 49ers (0-6) - 4:05 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: 49ers
How awesome would it be for the Cowboys to lose four of their first six games after losing just three during the entire 2016 regular season? I hope we find out.
Dallas could obviously be a Wild Card contender this year, while the 49ers are already window shopping outside of college football.
Seahawks (3-2) at Giants (1-5) - 4:25 p.m. ET - CBS
Who to root for: Giants
The Giants would have to mount a pretty impressive comeback to be a part of the playoff discussion, and even if they manage said comeback, the Lions forever hold the tiebreaker over them.
That’s why a Seahawks loss would be huge for Detroit. The Lions don’t play Seattle this year, so they’ll need some help to finish with a better record than the Seahawks. This week would be a big help in both dropping Seattle to 3-3 and it would probably demoralize the team a bit.
Buccaneers (2-3) at Bills (3-2) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Bills
AFC over NFC. The Bucs are the only NFC South team the Lions haven’t lost to, so there’s still a chance they can win the tiebreaker when the two teams face off in early December. Still, any NFC loss to an AFC team helps.
Falcons (3-2) at Patriots (4-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET - NBC
Who to root for: Patriots
There’s probably a good portion of you that still feel sick for the Falcons after what happened in the last Super Bowl. There’s probably a bigger portion of you that feel no sympathy after what happened in this year’s Lions-Falcons game.
Either way, hold your nose and root for the Patriots on Sunday night, because a Patriots win is completely harmless to Detroit, while the Lions could really use some losses in that NFC South division.
Washington (3-2) at Eagles (5-1) - Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET - ESPN
Who to root for: Eagles
This is the toughest game to gauge who to root for, as both teams are well within the hunt for the playoffs, yet neither team will play Detroit this year.
Here’s my thinking: I think Philly is good enough to run away with that division, so I say let them. Instead, let’s focus on Detroit staying in the Wild Card race just in case the division hopes don’t work out. Dropping Washington to a 3-3 record brings Detroit to their level, while the Eagles can start planning out their playoff bye.