After last week’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Detroit Lions ensured a top-five spot in the 2022 NFL Draft. In fact, they’re pretty darn close to clinching a top-two pick. If Detroit loses either of their final two games—this week against the Seattle Seahawks or in the finale against the Green Bay Packers—Detroit will have a pick no lower than two in April’s draft.
But they’re also still very much alive in the race for the top pick in the draft, and their first-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams can range anywhere from 19 to 32.
So let’s take a look at the Week 17 games and pick out the ideal scenarios for maximizing the Lions’ draft capital.
Here is our Week 17 Detroit Lions Rooting Guide.
Jaguars (2-13) vs. Patriots (9-6) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
Who to root for: Jaguars
Come on, Darrell Bevell. Pull off the unthinkable. The Lions still have an outside chance at getting the No. 1 overall pick, but it would require the Jaguars to win one of their two remaining games. This one seems unlikely, but next week’s game against a Colts doesn’t seem all that likely, either. However, Indy can clinch a playoff spot this week, lessening what they’ll have to play for next week.
Texans (4-11) vs. 49ers (8-7) — 4:05 p.m. ET — CBS
Who to root for: Texans
Simply put, if the Texans win one more game, the Lions won’t fall below them in the draft order.
Buccaneers (11-4) at Jets (4-11) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Jets
Simply put, if the Jets win one more game, the Lions won’t fall below them in the draft order.
If these results happen—plus the Lions lose vs. Seahawks—here’s what the top of the draft order would look like:
- Lions: 2-13-1
- Jaguars: 3-13
- Texans: 5-11
- Jets: 5-11
Note: There could be other 5-11 teams that would jump the Texans and Jets depending on other Week 17 results.
Under this scenario, not only would the Lions jump into the top spot, but they would also guarantee a top two pick in the draft no matter what happens in Week 18. In fact, the Lions clinch a top-two pick simply by losing to the Seahawks this week.
Last week, the Rams clinched a playoff spot and jumped into the top spot in the NFC West. We can’t do anything about the former, but let’s fix the latter.
Cardinals (10-5) vs. Cowboys (11-4) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Cardinals
Arizona is in free fall, losing three in a row. If they lose this week and the Rams win, then the NFC West will be settled and the Rams will walk into the Wild Card round with a home playoff game (they could also still be in play for a first-round bye). But if the Cardinals win and the Rams lose to Ravens, Arizona would reclaim the top spot in the division with one week to go.
There is a small downside to a Cowboys loss, however. If Dallas loses and the Packers win, Green Bay will clinch the No. 1 seed. That’s good in that the Rams won’t be able to have the first-round bye, but it also means the Packers will have nothing to play for next week against the Lions, increasing Detroit’s chance at a win.
A Cowboys loss also gives the Rams an opportunity to jump to a two seed, which is not great. However, a drop out of the NFC West lead is worth the risk here because a fall from the three seed and a home playoff game to a five seed and a road playoff game is much bigger than a jump from a three to two seed.
Buccaneers (11-4) vs. Jets (4-11) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Buccaneers
I know this runs contrary to the other section, but a Bucs win with a Rams loss drops Los Angeles to a four seed, at a minimum.
Vikings (7-8) vs. Packers (12-3) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC
Who to root for: Packers
I don’t believe there is any scenario in which the Rams can get the No. 1 seed in the NFC if the Packers win on Sunday night. Los Angeles is already a long shot to get that top seed, so if rooting for the Packers is too much to stomach, you can just ignore this one.
Here’s what the top of the NFC would look like with these results, plus the Rams losing to the Ravens
- Packers: 13-3
- Cardinals: 11-5
- Cowboys: 11-5
- Rams: 11-5
Los Angeles would drop from their current three seed all the way down to the five seed. That would set them up with a tough first round matchup against the Cowboys in the Wild Card round (if results held for Week 18).