clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Lions Week 15 rooting guide: Best outcomes for playoff odds, draft position

A look at the best possible NFL Week 15 outcomes for the Detroit Lions’ playoff chances and NFL Draft pick order.

NFL: DEC 04 Jaguars at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the Minnesota Vikings completed the biggest comeback in NFL history, the Detroit Lions’ chances at winning the NFC North are officially dead. That was always the Lions’ longest shot at the postseason, but it’s still a little sad to see those pie-in-the-sky fantasies come to an end.

That said, the Lions already got some big help this week thanks to the San Francisco 49ers, who took down the Seattle Seahawks—one of the teams the Lions could jump for a playoff spot. With the other two teams the Lions may need to jump—the New York Giants and Washington Commanders—playing against each other on Sunday night, this could prove to be a pivotal week for Detroit’s postseason hopes. Of course, all of that is predicated on the Lions pulling off the mild upset over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at our Week 15 rooting guide, both for the best outcomes in playoff odds and draft position.

Playoff odds

Before we get into it, here’s a refresher on the NFC playoff picture, taking into account the Thursday and Saturday games:

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 12-1 — clinched playoff spot
  2. Vikings: 11-3 — clinched NFC North
  3. 49ers: 10-4 — clinched NFC West
  4. Buccaneers: 6-7

Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 10-3
  2. Commanders: 7-5-1
  3. Giants: 7-5-1
  4. Seahawks: 7-7
  5. Lions: 6-7
  6. Packers, Panthers, Falcons at 5-8

Alright, to the guide;

Eagles (12-1) at Bears (3-10) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Bears

This will not only help out the draft position for the Lions, but it would keep the Eagles motivated to continue winning. With Philly closing in on clinching the one-seed, there’s a chance they take Week 18 off. We can’t have that, because they face the Giants—a team the Lions very likely HAS to jump—that week. So giving the Cowboys a chance to catch them in the NFC East or the Vikings a chance to catch them as the No. 1 seed is a pretty big priority.

Falcons (5-8) at Saints (4-9) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Saints

This one probably doesn’t matter much, but if the Lions go 3-1 down the stretch, the Falcons could theoretically catch them.

Steelers (5-8) at Panthers (5-8) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Steelers

The Panthers have quietly won three of their last four games and, like the Falcons, they could theoretically catch the Lions if Detroit goes 3-1 down the stretch. Detroit has its own opportunity to bury Carolina next week, but why not have them buried a week early?

Cowboys (10-3) at Jaguars (5-8) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Cowboys

Detroit can’t catch Dallas, as they already have 10 wins and the tiebreaker over the Lions. Again, we need Dallas to apply as much pressure on the Eagles for that division crown. It’s important for Dallas to have something to play for at the end of the season, too, as they face off against the Commanders in Week 18. If Philly clinches the division early, there’s a pretty good chance Dallas would be locked into the four seed and would have nothing to play for in Week 18.

So for the rest of the season: Go Cowboys! Boo Eagles! (unless they’re playing the Giants or Commanders)

Bengals (9-4) at Buccaneers (6-7) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Bengals

AFC over NFC. And while the NFC South probably doesn’t present a real threat to the Lions’ playoff chances, why not tally another loss?

Giants (7-5-1) at Commanders (7-5-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Root for: Tie

Okay, this could probably be its own article, but here’s the deal. With their current ties, the Giants and Commanders hold a 1.5-game lead over the Lions, which is essentially the same thing as a two-game lead, because the Lions aren’t likely to get a tie and make up that half-game. A win by either team, turns that into a one-game lead (given a Lions win) for the loser but the winner would remain two games ahead.

A tie, however, would drop each team to 7-5-2. Because ties are technically considered 0.5 wins and 0.5 losses, that record is essentially the same thing as 8-6. If the Lions are theoretically 7-7, that means they’re just a game behind BOTH teams—because they have the tiebreaker over both—rather than just one team.

How big would a tie be for the Lions? Look at the change in playoff odds for the Lions based on all three possible outcomes:

NYT model:

  • Current Lions playoff odds: 20%
  • Odds with a tie: N/A
  • Odds with NYG win: 19%
  • Odds with WAS win: 20%

FiveThirtyEight model:

  • Current Lions playoff odds: 25%
  • Odds with a tie: 35% (!!!!)
  • Odds with NYG win: 24%
  • Odds with WAS win: 26%

As you can see, a win for either team barely moves the needle for the Lions’ playoff odds, with a slight preference to Washington winning. A tie, however, increases the Lions’ postseason probability by 10 percent! And if you combine a Giants/Commanders tie with a Lions win over the Jets, the Lions’ playoff odds would jump to 52 percent, per FiveThirtyEight.

Rams (4-9) at Packers (5-8) — Monday 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN

Root for: Rams

Yeah, I know. Draft position. But the Packers are clinging to extremely long playoff odds, and wouldn’t it be nice to see them almost certainly eliminated from playoff contention with still a few weeks to go? You know deep in your heart you’d enjoy that.

Playoff picture if everything goes the right way:

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 12-2 — clinched playoff spot
  2. Vikings: 11-3 — clinched NFC North
  3. 49ers: 10-4 — clinched NFC West
  4. Buccaneers: 6-8

Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 11-3
  2. Commanders: 7-5-2
  3. Giants: 7-5-2
  4. Seahawks: 7-7
  5. Lions: 7-7

If this week played out perfectly, the Lions could theoretically jump all three teams in front of them by next week and move to the sixth seed!

Rooting guide for draft position:

  • Bears (3-10) over Eagles (12-1)
  • Saints (4-9) over Falcons (5-8)
  • Jaguars (5-8) over Cowboys (10-3)
  • Texans (1-11-1) over Chiefs (10-3)
  • Broncos (3-10) over Cardinals (4-9)
  • Raiders (5-8) over Patriots (7-6)
  • Packers (5-8) over Rams (4-9)
  • Panthers (5-8) over Steelers (5-8)

If all of those games play out as hoped, here’s what the 2023 NFL Draft order would look like:

Note: Strength of schedule is taken from Tankathon, and is not adjusted for outcomes from Week 15:

  1. Texans: 2-11-1 (.498 strength of schedule)
  2. Broncos (owned by Seahawks): 4-10 (.480)
  3. Rams (owned by Lions): 4-10 (.500)
  4. Cardinals: 4-10 (.518)
  5. Bears: 4-10 (.577)
  6. Colts: 4-9-1 (.504)
  7. Falcons: 5-9 (.451)
  8. Saints (owned by Eagles): 5-9 (.504)
  9. Steelers: 5-9 (.537)
  10. Raiders: 6-8 (.442)
  11. Panthers: 6-8 (.447)
  12. Jaguars: 6-8 (.491)
  13. Browns (owned by Texans): 6-8 (.511)
  14. Packers: 6-8 (.564)

Detroit’s pick would move up a spot to three, and be within striking distance of the Broncos. With the Rams and Broncos playing next week on Christmas, it would be an opportunity for that pick to jump into the top two.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that even if all of these outcomes fall Detroit’s way this week, the Rams are still in danger of falling toward the bottom of the top 10 with a single win. That’s what happens when there are currently 13 teams with five wins or less and the Rams already have four wins.

Thanksgiving deal: Save 20% on PODD

What's more Lions than football on Thanksgiving!? To celebrate the holiday, use promo code GOLIONS20 to save 20% on your first year of Pride of Detroit Direct. Sign up today for exclusive game analysis, subscriber-only videos, and much more!