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Detroit Lions Week 12 rooting guide: Best results for NFC playoff picture

Things got a bit more complicated after the loss to the Bills, but the Lions are still “in the hunt” for a playoff spot.

NFL: NOV 24 Bills at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions’ playoff odds took a pretty significant hit after their loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. Per Football Outsiders, their postseason chances went from 16.4 percent to just 10.2 percent.

That said... 10.2 percent is far from a complete longshot. In the NFC alone, there are six teams with worse odds than Detroit (Packers, Bears, Saints, Panthers, Rams, Cardinals). That leaves Detroit among the 10 teams realistically fighting for seven playoff spots.

So let’s keep the dream alive by setting the table for which teams the Lions should be rooting for and against in Week 12 of the NFL season.

Before we get into it, here’s a look at the current NFC playoff standings after Thursday’s results;

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 9-1
  2. Vikings: 9-2
  3. 49ers: 6-4
  4. Buccaneers: 5-5

Wild Card (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 8-3
  2. Giants: 7-4
  3. Seahawks: 6-4
  4. Commanders: 6-5
  5. Falcons: 5-6
  6. Lions: 4-7
  7. Packers: 4-7
  8. Cardinals: 4-7
  9. Saints: 4-7

Realistically speaking, it seems like the best way for the Lions to make the playoffs is if they jump both the Giants and Commanders—two teams they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over—and eventually jump a Falcons team that is probably not that good.

So here are the best potential results for the rest of Week 12:

Buccaneers (5-5) at Browns (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Browns

Always root AFC over NFC when it comes to the playoffs, and the more the subpar NFC South loses, the better chance none of those teams pick up a Wild Card.

Falcons (5-6) at Commanders (6-5) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Falcons

There are pros and cons to each team winning this game, but the Commanders seem like the bigger threat here, seeing as they have won five of their last six games. The Falcons don’t feel like true contenders—although they do have a very friendly schedule ahead, with games still against the Steelers, Saints, Cardinals, and Buccaneers remaining.

That said, Atlanta (17th) and Washington (18th) are nearly identical in DVOA ranking, so this is almost a toss-up.

Chargers (5-5) at Cardinals (4-7) — 4:05 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Chargers

Always AFC over NFC. The Cardinals, too, don’t feel like a legitimate threat to a playoff spot but root for a loss anyways just to make sure.

Raiders (3-7) at Seahawks (6-4) — 4:05 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Raiders

In an ideal world, the Seahawks win the NFC West so that Detroit doesn’t have to contend with them for a Wild Card spot, as Seattle has the key head-to-head tiebreaker. However, the surging 49ers may end up winning that division, so we’ve got to hope that Seattle just absolutely crumbles in the final stretch here. A demoralizing loss to the Raiders would be a good way to start that.

Rams (3-7) at Chiefs (8-2) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Chiefs

The Rams aren’t making the playoffs, but root against them for that juicy top-five draft pick potential.

Saints (4-7) at 49ers (6-4) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Saints

Though the Saints would jump the Lions with a win here, the NFC West is the real threat here to take a Wild Card spot. The more losses both the 49ers and Seahawks accumulate, the better. If Detroit goes on a run, it’s hard to imagine the Saints being a legitimate threat.

Packers (4-7) at Eagles (9-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Root for: Eagles

The Lions aren’t catching the Eagles, and watching the Packers lose on national television is never not amazing. Easy call here.

If everything goes the Lions’ way, here’s what the NFC playoff picture would look like after Week 12:

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 10-1
  2. Vikings: 9-2
  3. 49ers: 6-5
  4. Falcons: 6-6

Wild Card (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 8-3
  2. Giants: 7-4
  3. Seahawks: 6-5
  4. Washington: 6-6
  5. Buccaneers: 5-6
  6. Saints: 5-7
  7. Lions: 4-7

Detroit would actually slip one spot in the standings, but just be two games behind in the Wild Card race with six games remaining. It’s a tall task, but when you’ve only got a 10 percent chance at a playoff spot, that’s about as good of a situation as you can expect.


Since a few of you have requested, here are the teams you should be rooting for if you want that Rams pick as high as possible:

  • Texans (1-8-1) over Dolphins (7-3)
  • Panthers (3-8) over Broncos (3-7)
  • Bears (3-8) over Jets (6-4)
  • Raiders (3-7) over Seahawks (6-4)
  • Browns (3-7) over Buccaneers (5-5)
  • Chiefs (8-2) over Rams (3-7)
  • Jaguars (3-7) over Ravens (7-3)
  • Steelers (3-7) over Colts (4-6-1)

If all of that goes to play, here’s what the draft order would look like (Note: I’m using tiebreakers based on current strength of schedule. However, that will all shift depending on ALL of Week 12’s games)

  1. Texans: 2-8-1
  2. Broncos: 3-8
  3. Rams: 3-8
  4. Panthers: 4-8
  5. Bears: 4-8
  6. Raiders: 4-7
  7. Browns: 4-7
  8. Jaguars: 4-7
  9. Steelers: 4-7

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