Through seven weeks, the Detroit Lions are at 3-3 and surprisingly in the playoff conversation. Though Detroit is certainly on the outside looking in, the schedule—and the extra wild card spot—have set the team up for a legitimate playoff run over the final two months.
Of course, above all else the team needs to simply win. If they get to 10 or 11 wins, they’re almost guaranteed to land a playoff spot. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, that seems like a tough task for a team that started out so poorly. In other words, this could be a team that needs a little help on the way.
So our weekly rooting guide has returned! We’ll break down every relevant game this week and who you should root for to improve Detroit’s chances at the playoffs. And here’s the good news: Week 8 is already off to a good start, as the 3-4 Panthers lost to the Falcons. That created a little more space between the 3-3 Lions and the now 3-5 Panthers for the 10-seed in the conference.
Here’s how we hope the rest of the week turns out:
Vikings (1-5) at Packers (5-1) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Vikings
For the rest of the season, Lions fans will likely be forced into the ugly reality of rooting for the Packers to beat up the rest of the NFC, seeing as it feels unlikely the Lions will catch them for a shot at the NFC North crown. But if the Vikings can somehow come out of the bye looking like a completely different team, maybe it becomes the start of a skid for Green Bay. At this point, a Vikings win seems harmless (unless you believe in building momentum for next week’s game against Detroit), so “FTP” survives another week.
Rams (5-2) at Dolphins (3-3) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Dolphins
Always root AFC over NFC, and this could be a big one. The NFC West is stacked, and it’s not completely out of the question that all four teams make the playoffs. Any opportunity to knock one of those teams down a peg, ROOT FOR IT.
Saints (4-2) at Bears (5-2) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Saints
This one could go either way, as both teams likely stand between the Lions and a playoff spot. At the moment, both teams hold the tiebreaker over Detroit, as well. However, I think the best case scenario for Detroit is for the Saints to win the NFC South and have the Bears plummet in the Wild Card race. Detroit still has a chance to win the tiebreaker over the other NFC South challenger (Buccaneers). So even as Tampa looks like the favorite in that division, no harm in rooting for unlikely scenarios.
49ers (4-3) at Seahawks (5-1) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Seahawks
Well, at least we know one NFC West team is losing this week. In this case, just hope the Seahawks run away with the division and hand out Ls to everyone else in the division along the way. With a 49ers loss, the Lions would jump them in the standings... as long as they beat the Colts. One team at a time.
Cowboys (2-5) at Eagles (2-4-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC
Who to root for: Eagles???
This division is bad. There’s almost no chance at a wild card coming from the NFC East, but I guess you can root for the Eagles to dominate the division to make sure something miraculous doesn’t happen in Dallas.
Buccaneers (5-2) at Giants (1-6) — Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN
Who to root for: Giants
As I said before, it probably serves the Lions best for the Saints to win the NFC South, so hope and pray and grab your Tom Brady voodoo dolls and hope the Giants can somehow overcome a 13-point Vegas line.
If all these outcomes go the Lions’ way and Detroit picks up a win over Indianapolis, here’s what the NFC standings would look like after Week 8. (Note: I am not bothering with tiebreakers this early in the season.)
- Seahawks: 6-1
- Packers: 5-2
- Saints: 5-2
- Eagles: 3-4-1
- Cardinals: 5-2
- Buccaneers: 5-3
- Bears: 5-3
- Rams: 5-3
- Lions: 4-3
- 49ers: 4-4
So even if everything goes the Lions’ way this weekend, they’ll still be on the outside looking in, which is a good showcase of just how tough this conference could be this year. It also means the Lions are not just going to have to win this week, but they need to get on a serious streak right now.