The NFC playoff race got a little tighter this week after the Detroit Lions dropped their Week 7 contest against the Baltimore Ravens. They forfeited their share of first place in the conference, and with the Vikings and Bears scoring wins, Detroit’s lead in the NFC North is not quite as cozy this week.
But Week 8 provides a new opportunity to potentially create some additional room. The Lions have a favorable matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, and there are some tricky matchups for NFC contenders.
With the Lions off on Sunday, it’s an easy day to sit back and root for the optimal options for Detroit’s playoff chances. Here is our Week 8 rooting guide:
Rams (3-4) at Cowboys (4-2) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Both the Rams and the Cowboys are in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Currently, the Cowboys hold the first Wild Card position with the Seahawks, while the Rams are one of five teams tied for the final Wild Card spot.
At this point, the Cowboys look like the more dangerous team, and while the Lions can control their own destiny against Dallas, who doesn’t want to root against the Cowboys for an afternoon?
Root for: Rams
Vikings (3-4) at Packers (2-4) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
The Vikings picked up their most impressive win of the season with a fairly decisive win over the San Francisco 49ers, and now they clearly look like Detroit’s biggest competition in the NFC North. If record alone didn’t reflect that enough, check out the DVOA rankings for each team in the division:
- Lions: 5th
- Vikings: 16th
- Packers: 25th
- Bears: 26th
So let’s knock the Vikings down a peg after that big win. Swallow your pride and root for Green Bay.
Root for: Packers
Falcons (4-3) at Titans (2-4) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
AFC over NFC, always*.
Root for: Titans
Saints (3-4) at Colts (2-4) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
The Saints are the only NFC South team the Lions don’t have the tiebreaker over (yet). So root extra hard for this one. AFC over NFC.
Root for: Colts
Jets (3-3) at Giants (2-5) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
The Giants aren’t likely to be a factor in the NFC playoff race, but these rooting guides are thorough. AFC over NFC.
Root for: Jets
Eagles (6-1) at Commanders (3-4) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Detroit could regain a share of first place in the conference with an Eagles loss paired with a Lions win. It seems like Philly—seven-point favorites this week—is a shoo-in to win, but road division games are never gimmes.
Root for: Commanders
Texans (3-3) at Panthers (0-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Here’s why “AFC over NFC always” had an asterisk.
Yes, it’s an AFC team vs. an NFC team, and a Panthers loss would improve Detroit’s playoff chances by a microscopic percentage. However, the Bears have the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2024. Given that Carolina is 0-6 and Detroit has the tiebreaker, I think it’s time to start rooting for the Panthers to get out of the No. 1 pick spot.
Root for: Panthers
Browns (4-2) at Seahawks (4-2) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX
Back to AFC over NFC, and the Seahawks obviously pose a threat as a legit NFC West contender with the tiebreaker over Detroit.
Root for: Browns
Ravens (5-2) at Cardinals (1-6) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
Not one to likely matter, but AFC over NFC. Heck, maybe the Cardinals can be one of those teams that sinks below the Panthers in the standings, forcing Chicago out of the No. 1 draft position.
Root for: Ravens
Bengals (3-3) at 49ers (5-2) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS
Easy one. AFC over NFC, and the 49ers obviously pose a pretty big threat to the Lions’ seeding should both teams win their respective divisions.
Root for: Bengals
Bears (2-5) at Chargers (2-4) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC
I don’t view Chicago as legitimate threats despite their win last week. Still, I take pleasure in them losing and getting out of the division race ASAP. So while it may help their draft position...
Root for: Chargers.
If all those outcomes happen, and the Lions take care of business on Monday night against the Las Vegas Raiders, here’s what the NFC North standings would look like:
- Lions 6-2
- Packers: 3-4
- Vikings: 3-5
- Bears: 2-6
And here’s what the NFC playoff standings would look like:
Note: I am not taking into consideration tiebreakers yet
t-1. Eagles: 6-2
t-1. Lions: 6-2
3. 49ers: 5-3
4. Falcons: 4-4
t-1. Seahawks: 4-3
t-1. Cowboys: 4-3
t-3. Rams: 4-4
t-3. Commanders: 4-4
t-5. Buccaneers: 3-4
t-5. Packers: 3-4
t-7. Saints: 3-5
t-7. Vikings: 3-5
t-9. Giants: 2-6
t-9. Bears: 2-6
11. Panthers: 1-6
12. Cardinals: 1-7