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Detroit Lions Week 17 rooting guide: The path to a top-5 pick

A look at which teams you should be rooting for in the NFL’s regular season finales.

NFL: DEC 29 Packers at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As pointed out earlier in the week, by the end of Sunday, the Detroit Lions could be holding onto a draft pick as high as three or as low as 13. The odds say the Lions’ most likely draft position scenarios are sixth or 11th, depending on the outcome of their own game against the Minnesota Vikings this week. We know how that is going to work. If the Lions win, they’re very likely dropping out of the top 10. If they win, there’s a decent chance they’re in the top five.

But what has to happen in the other games to help Detroit out? Who needs lose? And more importantly, who needs to win?

Here’s our Week 17 rooting guide, split by whether the Lions win or lose on Sunday.

Games that matter if the Lions lose

Cowboys (6-9) at Giants (5-10) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for: Giants

The Lions can only get jumped by the Cowboys if Detroit win. However, if Detroit loses and the Giants lose, there’s a chance New York—currently eighth to the Lions’ seventh— jumps them. Strength of schedule is .504 to .506 right now, so there may be a shift there. If New York wins and the Lions lose, Detroit will finish higher in draft order than both of these teams.

Admittedly, things get a little sticky if the Lions, Giants, and Washington Football Team all win. The Cowboys, Giants and Lions would all finish 6-10, and with Washington winning the division, that could present a scenario in which both the Giants and Cowboys

Falcons (4-11) at Buccaneers (10-5) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for: Falcons

If the Falcons and Lions both finish 5-11, the Lions currently hold the easier SOS (.504 vs. .550). That isn’t likely to change, so this is another opportunity for the Lions to jump a spot.

Ravens (10-5) at Bengals (4-10-1) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for: Bengals

With a Lions loss and a Bengals win, the Lions jump one spot in draft position. No strength of schedule needed.

Titans (10-5) at Texans (4-11) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for: Texans

With the Titans fighting for a playoff spot, this one may be the most unlikely of outcomes, but it’s another opportunity to jump another spot in draft order if Deshaun Watson balls out. The Texans’ current strength of schedule (.540) would give the edge to Detroit in a tiebreaking scenario.

Football Team (6-9) at Eagles (4-10-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Who to root for: Eagles (if Lions lose), Football Team (if Lions win)

This one is a little complicated. If the Lions lose and the Eagles win, Detroit will jump yet another spot in draft order. However, if the Lions win, they won’t be able to catch the Eagles. That being said, even though the Washington Football Team is currently the divisional leader, they could actually jump Detroit in draft order if they lose on Sunday night and the Lions win. Both teams would be 6-10 and Washing has a much easier SOS (.465).

Because this is the Sunday night game, we’ll know which team to root for by kickoff.

Games that matter if the Lions win

Jets (2-13) at Patriots (6-9) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for: Patriots

If the Lions win and the Patriots lose, both teams will finish 6-10. As of now, the Lions hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots with a strength of schedule of .504 to New England’s .533. It’s unlikely those numbers change enough to impact the tiebreaker, but if the Patriots win, we don’t have to worry about it.

Raiders (7-8) at Broncos (5-10) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for: Broncos

Denver’s got a tough enough SOS (.567) where the Lions are almost certainly going to hold the tiebreaker. However, if Detroit wins, they’ll need the Broncos to win, too, in order to stay above them in draft order.

Chargers (6-9) at Chiefs (14-1) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for: Chargers

A Lions win combined with a Chargers loss could very well mean another spot dropped for Detroit. Los Angeles currently has an easier strength of schedule (.490). Here’s the good news: the Chiefs are sitting many of their starters, so the Chargers have a legitimate chance to win this week.

Seattle (11-4) at 49ers (6-9) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for: 49ers

This one isn’t likely to matter too much, as the 49ers SOS (.544) is currently significantly higher than Detroit’s. But just to make sure there isn’t a wild swing, a 49ers win would cement them below the Lions in draft order.

Saints (11-4) at Panthers (5-10) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for: Panthers

The strength of schedules here are close enough (.504 vs. .529), but if Detroit loses, it’s hard to imagine the Panthers jumping them. If Detroit slips up and wins, they’ll need the Panthers to pull off a big upset to remain ahead of them.

If all that happens

Here’s what the final draft standings would look like if all these games went in Detroit’s favor, and the Lions lose to the Vikings (assuming strength of schedule doesn’t flip).

  1. Jaguars
  2. Jets
  3. Lions: 5-11 (.504 SOS)
  4. Texans: 5-11 (.540)
  5. Falcons: 5-11 (.550)
  6. Bengals: 5-10-1 (.527)
  7. Eagles: 5-10-1 (.531)
  8. Cowboys: 6-10 (.465)
  9. Giants: 6-10 (.506)
  10. Panthers: 6-10 (.529)
  11. Broncos: 6-10 (.567)

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