It’s another Sunday without Detroit Lions football, which means we get to watch another slate of NFL game unencumbered by the stress and anxiety of a high-stakes game. Don’t fret, though, we’ll get more than our share of that on Monday night.
But it’s been nearly 20,160 minutes without Lions football, and I’m starting to get the shakes. So to bring some stakes to NFL games again, here is a Week 6 Lions rooting guide, showing you which matchups this week have the most impact on the Lions’ ability to make the postseason (and beyond)?
Panthers (3-2) vs. Buccaneers (2-3)
Who to root for: Buccaneers
The NFC South is a tough division to figure out. The Panthers have surprisingly been humming along without Cam Newton, winning three straight after an 0-2 start. With New Orleans currently running away with the division under their own backup quarterback, the NFC South seems primed to potentially send at least two teams to the playoffs.
The Buccaneers don’t appear to be true contenders, but they are certainly “contending” in each game they play. This is simply a matter of opinion on who you think is the better team, and I think it’s the Panthers. So root Bucs.
Who to root for: Browns
AFC over NFC. The NFC West could very well send two teams themselves, with the 49ers being the only remaining undefeated team in the division and the Rams still hanging around. The Seahawks will never go away, so let’s hope Baker Mayfield rebounds and plants his flag in the heart of Seattle fans this week.
Washington (0-5) at Dolphins (0-4)
Who to root for: Dolphins
This game doesn’t matter, let’s be honest. But let’s let the Dolphins pop the champagne this year and laugh at Dan Snyder’s hilariously awful creation.
Who to root for: Eagles
Easily the biggest game of Sunday for Lions, this game could both have divisional and wild card implications. For the Lions, the priority is the division. And while the Vikings are technically in last place at 3-2, they could jump the Lions in the standings this week.
Additionally, the Lions obviously have the tiebreaker over the Eagles, which is an added bonus. Although, it seems unlikely that tiebreakers will have any implications, considering Detroit’s tie.
Who to root for: Jaguars
AFC over NFC. As previously mentioned, the NFC South is dangerous and the more free losses we can hand them without giving a different NFC team a win the better. The Saints are for real, and they need to start accumulating losses before Drew Brees is back.
49ers (4-0) at Rams (3-2)
Who to root for: Rams
This is a toss up depending on your current goals.
If you’re eyeing a first-round bye for the Lions already, first off, god bless you. Second, you want to root for the Rams on Sunday. Taking the undefeated 49ers down a notch will be necessary for Detroit to climb the NFC rankings.
But if you’re just hoping for playoffs, the Rams certainly pose a serious threat in the Wild Card race, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before they get Jared Goff rebooted again. A drop to .500 would be huge.
Who to root for: Cardinals
The Cardinals won’t be a threat this year, it’s just too early for that franchise in rebuild. The Falcons aren’t likely to be one, either, but one or two more losses before the trade deadline and we can just ignore any possibility of a Matt Ryan reanimation.
Who to root for: Jets
Yeah, I don’t have to convince you of this one, I’m sure. After the Cowboys were extremely unhelpful last week, we can all go back to hating them with a passion. Watching them lose to the Jets would be as equally hilarious as it would be helpful for Detroit in the Wild Card race.
If all these happen....
The NFC would look like this going into Monday night:
Detroit could jump into first place with a win over the Packers. A loss, on the other hand, would tie them for last place with the Vikings (2-2-1 is technically a .500 win percentage). A Packers win would also give them a commanding 1.5 lead in the division, which is pretty impressive when you consider everyone else will be .500 or better.
The entire NFC would look like this if everything played out the way I listed—plus a Lions win on Monday:
- 49ers: 4-1
- Lions: 3-1-1
- Packers: 4-2
- Saints: 4-2
- Eagles: 4-2
- Rams: 4-2
While incredibly unlikely, the Lions could find themselves in second place after Week 6 as one of the two remaining teams with only a single loss on the year. Hey, a man can hope, can’t he?