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Why Lions fans should root for the Falcons Monday night

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It’s not clear cut, but here’s why a Falcons win on Monday night is best for the Lions.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 has been kind to the Detroit Lions. While they didn’t get the help they wanted from the Los Angeles Rams, who were humbled by the Vikings this week, they got help in just about every other game. According to our Week 11 rooting guide, four of Sunday’s five relevant games went the Lions’ way. As a result, the Lions are just barely on the outside of the playoff picture.

(Note: This was before the Cowboys lost to the Eagles on Sunday night. Dallas is now 5-5.)

Monday night brings an important matchup for the NFC playoffs. The 6-3 Seattle Seahawks, who currently hold the second wild card position, face off against the Atlanta Falcons.

In the rooting guide, I said to root for the Falcons, but I admitted it was a tough decision:

This is the hardest game of the week to navigate. Some believe the Seahawks are done now that Richard Sherman and (likely) Kam Chancellor are out for the year. I’m not too sure of that.

So even though the Falcons hold the tiebreaker over the Lions and the Seahawks don’t, I still think you should root for Atlanta, simply because of the record difference.

But let’s dig a little deeper into why I think Lions fans should be rooting for the Falcons tonight.


Obviously the Falcons have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions and nothing is going to change that.

Because the Seahawks don’t play the Lions this year, the head-to-head tiebreaker will be based on conference record. As of right now, the Lions hold a 5-3 record in the conference while the Seahawks hold a 4-2 record.

So that means, if Seattle beats the Falcons on Sunday, not only will they have a better overall record than the Lions (7-3 vs. 6-4), they’ll have a step up on the tiebreaker over them, with a 5-2 conference record. In essence, they’ll hold a (temporary) two-game lead over the Lions. Obviously that conference record tiebreaker is subject to change (each team will play a total of 12 conference games), but it gives them an additional leg up.

Future schedule

In essence, this argument comes down to: Who do you think is the bigger threat to the Lions? The future success of the Falcons and Seahawks could very well come down to their strength of schedule. So let’s take a look at each team’s schedule after Monday night.


at 49ers (1-9)
vs. Eagles (9-1)
at Jaguars (7-3)
vs. Rams (7-3)
at Cowboys (5-5)
vs. Cardinals (4-6)

Opponent’s record: 33-27 (.550)


vs. Buccaneers (4-6)
vs. Vikings (8-2)
vs. Saints (8-2)
at Buccaneers (4-6)
at Saints (8-2)
vs. Panthers (7-3)

Opponent’s record: 39-21 (.650)

Both teams have difficult schedules ahead, but it appears the Falcons have the tougher road.

What that means, in my opinion, is that they are the team more likely to struggle down the stretch. If that’s the case, they may not be as big of a threat to the Lions, even though they have that tiebreaker.

If Atlanta is due for a slide in the final month and a half of the season, then it would be best for Detroit for them to pick up a win now and give a gut shot to the Seahawks. The Falcons would then move to 6-4, and would jump ahead of the Lions in the standings. But considering Detroit has a much easier schedule down the stretch, that lead is unlikely to stand.


Whichever team wins on Monday Night Football will control the six-seed and have their postseason destiny in their own hands. However, the Lions will be nipping at the heels of whichever team wins.

The Seahawks may be troubled by injury, and it’s entirely possible they collapse after losing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. But considering how many times the Seahawks have gone streaking in the second half of the season, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s what each scenario would look like in the standings.

If Seahawks beat Falcons:

  1. Eagles (9-1)
  2. Vikings (8-2)
  3. Saints (8-2)
  4. Seahawks (7-3)
  5. Panthers (7-3)
  6. Rams (7-3)
  7. Lions (6-4)
  8. Falcons (5-5)
  9. Cowboys (5-5)
  10. Packers (5-5)

If Falcons beat Seahawks:

  1. Eagles (9-1)
  2. Vikings (8-2)
  3. Saints (8-2)
  4. Rams (7-3)
  5. Panthers (7-3)
  6. Falcons (6-4)
  7. Lions (6-4)
  8. Seahawks (6-4)
  9. Cowboys (5-5)
  10. Packers (5-5)

*Note on the three-way tie at 6-4. Here’s how it shakes out: The Falcons would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams, so they’d take the six-seed. The Lions would be over the Seahawks due to conference record (5-3 vs. 4-3).

Which one would you prefer?


Who are you rooting for on Monday Night Football?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Seattle Seahawks
    (86 votes)
  • 84%
    Atlanta Falcons
    (478 votes)
564 votes total Vote Now