With the Detroit Lions’ loss on Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings’ win, Detroit is now in a perilous position with nine games left on the schedule. The Lions are a full 2.5 games behind the Vikings for the division lead, and the two team’s trajectories seem to be headed in opposite directions. The Vikings have won four straight. The Lions are losers of their past three games.
Here’s a look at the full NFC North standings after eight weeks:
- Minnesota Vikings: 6-2 (2-1 in division)
- Green Bay Packers: 4-3 (1-1)
- Detroit Lions: 3-4 (1-0)
- Chicago Bears: 3-5 (0-2)
Next week will be absolutely huge for the Lions. Detroit heads to Green Bay for a Monday night showdown. The Lions will get the opportunity to move to 2-0 in the division and essentially leapfrog the Packers into second place in the NFC North.
Additionally, the Lions have a chance to gain ground on the Vikings, because Minnesota has the week off. If Detroit can climb to 4-4 and get within two games of Minnesota, it could potentially set up a huge game against the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day during Week 12. Considering the Lions already have one win over Minnesota, getting the tiebreaker over the Vikings would be almost as huge as handing them another loss.
Considering the Vikings still have games against the Rams, Panthers, Falcons and Washington, the Lions certainly have a chance to gain ground in the second half of the season. But if Detroit doesn’t pick up a win next week against the Packers and proceeds to fall three games behind the Vikings (and two behind the Packers), it’s hard to see how the Lions find a way to get into the postseason.
As for the Bears, they remain in the NFC North basement despite a close loss to the Saints this week. While it’s unlikely they contend for a playoff spot this year, they are competing well enough to play spoiler to several teams in the final two months of the season.