Merry Christmas, everyone!
There’s some football to be had tonight, and while the Detroit Lions aren’t scheduled to play until Sunday, they could be impacted by Saturday’s results, via the 2022 NFL Draft.
Detroit won’t move from the No. 2 spot which they currently hold because of their 2-11-1 record, but their first-round pick via the Los Angeles Rams will certainly be influenced by Saturday’s results.
So let’s take a closer look at the two games on Saturday night, both of which include a contender for the NFC playoffs that could directly influence the Rams.
Browns (7-7) at Packers (11-3) — 4:30 p.m. ET — FOX/NFL Network
Who to root for: Packers
Last week couldn’t have gone much better for the 10-4 Rams. Two of the top NFC contenders—the Cardinals and Buccaneers—lost. Not only did Arizona’s loss get them extremely close to re-taking the NFC West lead, but now they’re got an even record with the Cowboys, Buccaneers and Cardinals. So if they get the division lead, they could shoot all the way up to the two-seed, depending on how tiebreakers fall.
To make sure they don’t jump all the way to the one-seed and earn a first-round bye, the Packers—who sit alone atop the NFC with an 11-3 record—have to keep winning. Remember, if the Rams somehow take over the top seed and get a first-round bye, that guarantees Detroit’s first-round pick will be no higher 25. If the Rams get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, that pick could be anywhere between 19-24.
So I know it’s going to be hard to root for the Packers, but if draft position is your No. 1 priority right now, a Packers win helps Detroit the most. The only downside to a Packers win is that they could potentially lock up the No. 1 seed before their matchup with the Lions in Week 18, giving Detroit an easier path to a “meaningless” win. However, unless the other top seeds continue to lose, it’s unlikely Green Bay will have anything other than the division locked up by Week 18.
Colts (8-6) vs. Cardinals (10-4) — 8:15 p.m. ET — NFL Network
The best way to keep the Rams pick high is to force them on the road in the first round of the playoffs. The only way that happens is if the Cardinals win the NFC West. If they win out (vs. Colts, @ Cowboys, vs. Seahawks), it’s theirs. But even one slip-up gives the Rams (@ Vikings, @ Ravens, vs. 49ers) a chance to take over the division lead, which would hand them a home playoff game and the potential for a first-round bye.
If these games go this way...
Here’s what the NFC playoff picture would look like if both of these contests go in the Lions’ direction.
- Packers: 12-3
- Cardinals: 11-4
- Buccaneers: 10-4
- Cowboys: 10-4
- Rams: 10-4
- 49ers: 8-7
- Vikings: 7-7
This would set up a first-round match between the Rams and Cowboys in Dallas.
Our Week 16 Rooting Guide for Sunday’s games will be published on Sunday morning.