For the past few weeks, it’s looked like the Detroit Lions’ best chance to get into the postseason was through the division. “Now that Aaron Rodgers is on injured reserve, the NFC North is WIDE OPEN,” we’d say.
But since Rodgers went down the Minnesota Vikings have gone 4-0 and are currently sitting pretty in the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture. This division may not be as wide open as we thought. Maybe the Vikings were always in the driver’s seat, we just couldn’t see them over Aaron Rodgers.
As a result, the Lions playoff odds actually decreased in Week 10, despite the win over the Cleveland Browns. Here’s a recap of Detroit’s Week 11 playoff odds, according to several different prediction models:
37.9% playoff odds
19.9% NFC North crown
Football Outsiders has the most thorough playoff odds, as they’re based on current DVOA statistics, along with strength of schedule and current injuries.
According to this model, the Vikings have a whopping 74.7 percent chance to win the NFC North and an overall 86.9 percent chance to make the postseason. The Lions’ 37.9 percent playoff odds rank seventh in the NFC. In other words, Football Outsiders’ current projections have Detroit as the first team out of the playoff race. The six teams ahead of them are the Eagles, Vikings, Saints, Rams, Panthers and Seahawks.
40% playoff odds
26% NFC North crown
FiveThirtyEight’s model is by far the most optimistic for the Lions. According to their projections, the Lions are still the in seventh in the NFC, but they have a better chance at catching the Vikings, who only have a 63 percent chance to win the North.
New York Times—The Upshot
33% playoff odds
19% NFC North crown
The New York Times has one of the least cheery outlooks on Detroit’s playoff odds. Still, the Lions are seventh in the conference, but their odds to win the division are the lowest among these three main models. The New York Times are only giving the Vikings a 69 percent chance to win the division, but they haven’t yet counted out the Packers, who maintain an 11 percent chance to win the North, despite Rodgers’ injury.
Other playoff odds sources:
- 34.0% playoff odds (18.7% division title) per numberFire
- 26.8% playoff odds (12.3% division title) via PredictionMachine.com
- 36% playoff odds (20% division title) per PlayoffStatus.com
What I find interesting about all of these models is how even the Lions’ odds are to win the division as compared to earning a wild card. That isn’t the case with all of the models, but there is certainly a gap closing.
We’ve all see just how impressive the NFC standings are across the board. And considering Detroit’s three losses to the NFC South, it always seemed like winning a wild card spot was a longshot for the Lions this year.
But now that the Lions are back on track, and given that the Vikings, too, are on a roll, it appears Detroit may need to consider a backup plan should Minnesota become unreachable. The easier route is still through the division, especially with a game against the Vikings looming a week a way, but the gap is closing between the two.