Every week, we like to do a Detroit Lions rooting guide, to help your Sunday viewing experience. Though it’s not always clear cut, we try to estimate what outcomes around the NFL are best for the Lions’ chances to make the postseason.
In our Week 11 Rooting Guide, we outlined the potential results of six different games. Of the six preferred winners we chose, five of them won. Though the most impactful game didn’t go the Lions’ way (Vikings over Rams), the rest of the Week 11 results have paved a real shot at the wild card for Detroit. It was just a few weeks ago in which the playoff mantra for the Lions was “division or bust,” but it doesn’t seem that way anymore.
49.4% playoff odds (+11.5%)
15.7% NFC North crown (-4.2%)
Football Outsiders gives us a perfect look at what Week 11 did for the Lions. Though the Vikings win actually significantly decreased Detroit’s chances at the division, their overall playoff odds jumped to nearly 50 percent.
According to Football Outsiders, the Lions now have a 33.7 percent chance at a wild card spot, well behind the Panthers (58.6 percent) but just trailing the Falcons (36.6). However, thanks to their Monday night loss, the Seahawks (14.2) are well behind in the wild card race.
51% playoff odds (+11%)
24% NFC North crown (-2%)
FiveThirtyEight actually has the most optimistic odds for the Lions to make the playoffs, but a deeper look into the numbers paints a confusing picture.
The Panthers (61 percent), Seahawks (58) and Falcons (57) all have significantly better odds to make the postseason. It appears FiveThirtyEight’s optimism surrounding the Lions involves their chances to win the division, which are way higher than anyone else’s projections. Obviously, if the Lions defeat the Vikings on Thursday, the other prediction models will follow.
New York Times—The Upshot
47% playoff odds (+14%)
20% NFC North crown (+1)
So Football Outsiders has the Lions behind the Panthers and Falcons, but ahead of the Seahawks. FiveThirtyEight has Detroit behind all three teams. But the New York Times has a third, different outlook. According to them, the Lions are trailing the Panthers (71 percent) and Seahawks (49) in playoff odds, but are strangely ahead of the Falcons (47), despite Atlanta holding the tiebreaker over Detroit.
This is all to say that it is an extremely tight race for two playoff spots between these four teams: Panthers, Falcons, Lions and Seahawks.
Other playoff odds sources:
- 43.7% playoff odds (+9.7%) per numberFire
- 37.9% playoff odds (+11.1%) via PredictionMachine.com
- 51% playoff odds (+15%) per PlayoffStatus.com
It’s now abundantly clear that Detroit’s most realistic path to the playoffs is through the Wild Card. Week 11 was a gift from the Football Gods, seeing as the Seahawks, Packers, Cowboys, Cardinals and Washington all took Ls.
Those results have given the Lions a little wiggle room for the final six weeks of the season. They may absolutely need that margin for error considering the Vikings are in town this week. Had Detroit not been so fortunate in Week 11, Thursday would’ve likely been an absolute must-win game for the Lions. Now, they can likely afford a loss, but must play near-perfect football after Thanksgiving.