While we haven’t gotten into scoreboard watching for playoff implications quite yet—it’s just mid-October y’all, calm down—it is the bye week for Detroit Lions fans, so all we can literally do is scoreboard watch.
So while we do that, we may as well dust off the Detroit Lions rooting guide. This won’t become a weekly feature quite yet, because the Lions have to prove to me they’re going to be in playoff contention, and the NFC picture has to be a little more clear to know which teams to truly root for.
But, for now, here are the teams to root for in Week 6.
The NFC North no-brainers
Root for: Dolphins
Believe it or not, the Bears are the top team in the division and tied for second in the conference right now. Coming in with a week’s rest against a team mid-collapse is good fortune for them, and it’s probably time to take Chicago seriously. Or Mitchell Trubisky will fall back to reality and throw seven interceptions.
Root for: Cardinals
Arizona looks absolutely horrible, but they took the Bears to the brink a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota has been one of the most inconsistent teams this season, so it’s impossible to just assume this will be a win here, even if they’re 10-point favorites this week.
Root for: 49ers
While it’s crappy that each NFC North team is playing someone with a worse record than them, the good news is that a win for their opponents would be relatively harmless for the Lions. Arizona and San Francisco won’t be making a push for the playoffs this year, and a win for either would also help the Lions’ chances at a higher draft pick, should the season go south quickly.
Buccaneers (2-2) vs. Falcons (1-4) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Root for: Buccaneers
Normally, it would make sense to root for the team with the better record here, but I want the Falcons buried for good. A 1-5 hole would be too much for Matt Ryan to pull that team out from, and I just don’t believe in the Bucs at all. Give them another week to be delusionally happy, and then watch them lose to the Browns the following week.
Root for: Raiders
We’ve long declared the Seahawks no longer a thing, with the Legion of Boom thoroughly disbanded, but Seattle has been counted out in October before and have figured things out by winter. They don’t look quite as bad as some expected them too, and while they’ll never catch the Rams this year, a Wild Card spot isn’t out of the question. AFC over NFC, always.
Panthers (3-1) at Washington (2-2) — 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Root for: Washington
This is a tricky one, but I’m pulling for Washington here for a few reason. First, I don’t think a Wild Card spot will come out of the NFC East, so I’m fine with just handing the division to Washington. The Eagles and Cowboys don’t look good enough to be a 10 or 11-win team this year, and the Giants are dysfunctional as ever. However, there’s a really good chance the NFC South produces a couple of playoff teams, and the Panthers are a prime candidate. A loss here for Carolina would be huge, because it’s a conference loss, too—a big tie-breaking factor.
Rams (5-0) at Broncos (2-3) — 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
Root for: Broncos
AFC over NFC. The only reason to root for the Rams is if you have rightfully picked them for Survivor Football this week.
Jaguars (3-2) at Cowboys (2-3) — 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Root for: Jaguars
AFC over NFC, plus the Cowboys have that dang tiebreaker over the Lions now. Root for the Jaguars for the Lions’ sake, and for humanity’s sake. You could power the world with the schadenfreude gained from a single camera shot of a visibly irritated Jerry Jones in his fancy suite.
- Steelers at Bengals
- Chargers at Browns
- Colts at Jets
- Bills at Texans
- Ravens at Titans
- Chiefs at Patriots
If all goes accoridng to plan...
Here’s what the standings would look like if everything somehow fell in the Lions’ favor this week, starting with the division.
- Bears (3-2)
- Packers (2-3-1)
- Vikings (2-3-1)
- Lions (2-3)
Technically, the Lions can’t get out of the basement this week, as a tie counts as a half-win in the standings. However, being a single game out of first place after six weeks is a pretty good place to be for Detroit, considering their awful 0-2 start.
1. Rams (5-1)
2. Saints (4-1)
t-3. Bears (3-2)
t-3. Panthers (3-2)
t-3. Washington (3-2)
t-3. Buccaneers (3-2)
7. Eagles (3-3)
t-8. Packers (2-3-1)
t-8. Vikings (2-3-1)
10. Lions (2-3)
t-11. Seahawks (2-4)
t-11. Cowboys (2-4)
t-11. Cardinals (2-4)
t-11. 49ers (2-4)
As you can see, it’s still not going to be an extremely rosy picture of the Lions coming out of this week, even if everything falls in their favor. If Detroit wants to make a serious run at this conference, they need to do one, simple thing: Win.