Week 14 got off to a really bad start for the Detroit Lions and their minor chances to make the 2017 playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons, just a game ahead of the Lions, pulled a small upset over the New Orleans Saints and sunk the Lions’ playoff chances a few percentage points.
But the Lions aren’t completely sunken yet, so the Rooting Guide lives on. If you’re already a week into your draft research, kindly close out of this tab and move on. The following is for the playoff dreamers alone.
Note: The only way the Lions can realistically make the playoffs is if they win out, therefore I won’t be bothering with the games involving teams slightly beneath the Lions in the standings (except for Green Bay). They won’t be able to catch the Lions if they win out.
Vikings (10-2) at Panthers (8-4) - 1 p.m. ET - CBS
Who to root for: Vikings
While the Lions can technically win the North if the Vikings lose out and the Lions win out, even I am not that big of a dreamer. Instead, let’s aim lower for the wild card and take down Carolina. The Lions are in need of two Panthers losses in four games. This would be a good week to pick up the first.
Packers (6-6) at Browns (0-12) - 1 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Browns
As much as I want another 0-16 team in the history of the NFL, I want Aaron Rodgers on the bench a whole lot more. By all accounts, it looks like he’s going to be healthy enough to play next week, so let’s hope Cleveland gives him every reason to stay on the bench. If the Lions are going to sweep their final four games, that last one against the Packers sticks out as the toughest one. If Green Bay is out of it, however, maybe the Packers don’t bother putting Rodgers out there.
Plus, how awesome would it be if the Packers were the first team to get handed a loss by the Browns? We would dedicate an entire day at Pride of Detroit to it.
Eagles (10-2) at Rams (9-3) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Eagles
It’s unlikely that the Lions can catch the Rams, but look at their schedule in the final four games:
They could very realistically lose the next three, leaving an opportunity for the Lions to catch them. If Los Angeles loses the next three, and the Lions win out, Detroit would have the tiebreaker with a superior conference record (8-4 vs. 7-5).
Seahawks (8-4) at Jaguars (8-4) - 4:25 p.m. ET - FOX
Who to root for: Jaguars
AFC over NFC. The Seahawks are another team that the Lions can catch if they lose two remaining games. Unfortunately a loss here wouldn’t harm Seattle’s conference record, but the Lions will take any losses they can get. If you look at the remaining schedule for the Seahawks (vs. Rams, at Cowboys, vs. Cardinals), it looks like they really need to lose this week to get to six losses by the end of the season.
Here’s what the standings would look like if these games played out the way outlined above.
- Vikings: 11-2 (9-1 conference)
- Eagles: 11-2 (9-1)
- Rams: 9-4 (6-4)
- Saints: 9-4 (7-3)
- Seahawks: 8-5 (6-3)
- Panthers: 8-5 (4-6)
- Falcons: 8-5 (7-2)
- Lions: 7-6 (6-4)
Obviously, the Lions don’t move up at all in the standings, but they do inch closer to the Seahawks and Panthers. That is absolutely key, because they’ll need to jump at least one of those teams to get into that playoff spot.