The 5-1 Detroit Lions are first in the NFC North, tied for first in the NFC, and tied for first in the entire NFL. Sure, it’s only Week 7, but things are looking pretty dang good for the fellas in Honolulu Blue, and that means it’s time to start thinking about some big goals for the 2023 season. Some may say it’s too early to start talking about the postseason and playoff seeding, but that’s just the “same old Lions” part of your brain talking.
This team is for real, and they could accomplish something really special this year. So it’s time to dust off the old rooting guide a good month ahead of time.
Here are the ideal Week 7 outcomes for the Lions’ playoff chances and highest seeding.
Raiders (3-3) at Bears (1-5)
The Chicago Bears are not truly a threat to the Lions, seeing as they’re already four games behind the lead through six weeks. I suspect many of you will take that opportunity to root for Chicago to win some games to hurt their chances in the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. I understand that, and if that’s the way you swing, no judgement.
But I’m all about optimizing playoff chances right now, and that means always rooting AFC over NFC, especially when it’s a divisional opponent.
Root for: Raiders
Commanders (3-3) at Giants (1-5)
Nothing fancy here. Just root for the team with the better record to lose. Considering this likely only impacts a Wild Card race, this game is of little importance.
Root for: Giants
Falcons (3-3) at Buccaneers (3-2)
Ah, two teams that the Lions have left in their wake. The NFC South is bad, but the Bucs seem like the best group of the bunch. So if the Lions are going to battle them for seeding as divisional winners, best to knock down their record.
Root for: Falcons, I guess
Steelers (3-2) at Rams (3-3)
AFC over NFC. Sorry, Matthew.
Root for: Steelers
Cardinals (1-5) at Seahawks (3-2)
Root for: Cardinals
Packers (2-3) at Broncos (1-5)
AFC over NFC, plus obviously the Packers are Detroit’s biggest threat for the NFC North crown. Also, it would just be funny for Green Bay to lose to one of the most disappointing teams in the league.
Root for: Broncos
Dolphins (5-1) at Eagles (5-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
This is a relatively big one. AFC over NFC, and if the Dolphins win, Detroit would officially jump the Eagles in the standing with a win over the Ravens. Philly has a pretty brutal schedule ahead, including road games against the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Seahawks, plus home games against the Bills and 49ers. So if it doesn’t happen this week, the Lions should still have plenty of opportunities to take the lead over the Eagles.
Root for: Dolphins
49ers (5-1) at Vikings (2-4) — Monday 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
They say the first goal of the regular season is to win your division, but I say screw that. The Lions’ goals should be higher. So while a 49ers win would increase the Lions’ playoff odds, a Vikings win would increase their chances at the No. 1 seed. Call me cocky, but I think that should be the rooting priority until the Vikings prove to be a legitimate threat.
Root for: Vikings (unless you’re a scaredy cat)
If all of these outcomes happen...
Here’s what the NFC North would look like with these outcomes, plus a Lions victory over the Ravens.
- Lions: 6-1
- Vikings: 3-4
- Packers: 2-4
- Bears: 1-6
And here’s what the NFC standings would look like (tiebreakers not included)
- Lions: 6-1
- 49ers: 5-2
- Eagles: 5-2
- Falcons: 4-3
5. Cowboys: 4-2
t-6. Seahawks: 3-3
t-6. Buccaneers: 3-3
t-8. Vikings: 3-4
t-8. Commanders: 3-4
t-8. Saints: 3-4
t-8. Rams: 3-4
12. Packers: 2-4
t-13. Cardinals: 2-5
t-13. Giants: 2-5
15. Bears: 1-6
16. Panthers: 0-6