Not many expected Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers to have any direct playoff implication attached to it... even just looking a month in the rearview mirror. At the midway point in November, the Lions were 3-6 and the Panthers were 3-7.
However, both teams are on a little bit of a hot streak—or in the Lions’ case a major hot streak. Detroit (7-7) has won six of seven games, including victories over playoff-contending teams like the Vikings, Giants, and Jets. The Panthers (5-9) have won three of their last five, and they took down a win-needy Seahawks team in Seattle just over a week ago. Despite their poor record, they are just a game out of the division-leading Buccaneers in the NFC South.
To say there are playoff implications to this game is to understate the importance for both teams. This game has more playoff stakes than any other matchup in the NFL this week. Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz does a good job breaking it down here. The short version:
Lions playoff odds:
- With a win: 55%
- With a loss: 16%
Panthers playoff odds:
- With a win: 22%
- With a loss: 7%
Despite their 5-9 record, Lions coach Dan Campbell is not overlooking the Panthers this week.
“You’ve got to respect the opponent and what they’re capable of,” Campbell said this week. “They’ve got a chance to win this division, they’re very much in the hunt. So we understand that. We identify that. We know it’s a physical unit.”
That said, the Vegas line is favoring the red-hot Lions. DraftKings Sportsbook has Detroit as a three-point favorite over Carolina. According to Lions Wire, this is the first time the Lions have been favorites on the road in four years. Detroit won that game by defeating the Arizona Cardinals 17-3.
You can catch all of our Lions vs. Panthers Week 16 pregame and postgame coverage in this storystream.