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Detroit Lions Week 11 rooting guide: Is the No. 1 NFC seed up for grabs?

A look at the best possible Week 11 outcomes for the Detroit Lions’ playoff odds

Detroit Lions v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions continue to hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoff Picture, but with the Philadelphia Eagles facing the Kansas City Chiefs this week, you can just smell that top seed.

Of course, if the Lions just continue to take care of their own business—including this week against the Chicago Bears—they’ll have a really good shot at a first-round bye. But let’s look a little deeper at the NFC playoff picture, and the best possible outcomes outside of a Lions win.

It’s our Week 11 Detroit Lions rooting guide!

Most important games

Cowboys (6-3) at Panthers (1-8) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Panthers

Dallas is a threat both in terms of playoff seeding and the Wild Card should Detroit slide out of the NFC North lead. After losing to Philly, the Cowboys seem unlikely to take the NFC East, but nothing wrong with handing them another L.

A Panthers win also helps the Lions indirectly, as the Chicago Bears own the Panthers’ 2024 first-round draft pick. If Carolina wins, that pick could drop in order.

Buccaneers (4-5) vs. 49ers (6-3) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Bucs

The 49ers sure looked more like themselves last week, absolutely pummeling the Jaguars, 34-3. I still think this is a team capable of running the table, which makes them a threat to the No. 1 seed. Root against the 49ers for the rest of the season (except maybe their games against the Seahawks).

Seahawks (6-3) at Rams (3-6)— 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Rams

Speaking of, the Seahawks are the only team in the NFC that currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Detroit. They’ve got a tough schedule ahead with two bouts against the 49ers and contests against the Cowboys and Eagles remaining. But why not get a head start on that losing streak?

Vikings (6-4) at Broncos (4-5) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Root for: Broncos

One of the most important games of the week falls on Sunday night. The Vikings are winners of five straight, and their path to the playoffs got a little easier with their Week 15 bout with the Bengals no longer including Joe Burrow. They’re a pesky team right now, but the Broncos are actually favored in this one. Let’s hope the home team wins.

Eagles (8-1) at Chiefs (7-2) — Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN/ABC

Root for: Chiefs

AFC over NFC makes this an easy choice. A loss by the Eagles and a win for Detroit would even up the teams’ records at 8-2.

FTP section

Chargers (4-5) at Packers (3-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for Chargers

The Packers will not be a threat this year, but who doesn’t enjoy watching them lose? This doesn’t really do much to help the Lions, though. While it improves the Lions’ strength of victory—one possible tiebreaker—over the Chargers, it would hurt their strength of victory over the Packers.

For thoroughness

Giants (2-8) at Commanders (4-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Giants... or Commanders, who cares

There’s truly no reason to be afraid of the Commanders jumping the Lions in the Wild Card, but it’s still mathematically possible. So if you only care about that, the Giants are the team to root for.

That said, the Giants are one of the teams seriously competing for the No. 1 overall pick. They feel like a team that could reasonably rip it away from the Bears. So if you want to root for the Commanders to hand them another loss, I wouldn’t blame you.

Note: The standings below will reflect only the rooting interests for best playoff odds, so a Commanders loss here.

Cardinals (2-8) at Texans (5-4) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Texans

The Cardinals are another team with a legit shot at stripping the Bears of the top pick. So let’s keep handing them losses. Plus, C.J. Stroud is really fun.

NFC North standings...

If Week 11 produces the above results—plus a Lions win over the Bears—here’s what the divisional standings would look like:

  1. Lions: 8-2
  2. Vikings: 6-5
  3. Packers: 3-7
  4. Bears: 3-8

The Lions would extend their lead in the division to 2.5 games with seven weeks remaining. The Bears would nearly be mathematically eliminated from divisional contention, while the Packers wouldn’t be far behind.

But with two head-to-head matchups with the Vikings still on the docket, the Lions are still far from securing the division.

NFC Playoff picture

Here’s what the playoff picture would look like after these results:

Division leaders

  1. Eagles: 8-2
  2. Lions: 8-2
  3. 49ers: 6-4
  4. Buccaneers: 5-5

Wild Card (top three advance)

  1. Seahawks: 6-4
  2. Cowboys: 6-4
  3. Vikings: 6-5
  4. Saints: 5-5
  5. Rams: 4-6
  6. Falcons: 4-6
  7. Commanders: 4-7
  8. Packers: 3-7
  9. Giants: 3-8
  10. Bears: 3-8
  11. Panthers: 2-8
  12. Cardinals: 2-9

Unfortunately, the Lions cannot jump the Eagles this week. Philly would hold the slight tiebreaker according to conference record. Detroit would move to 5-1 in the conference, while the Eagles would remain an undefeated 6-0 in NFC play.

In other words, not only do the Lions want to see the Eagles keep losing, but some conference losses would help, too. They do still have games at Dallas and Seattle, plus a home game against the 49ers, so that is entirely possible.

Meanwhile, the Lions get a nice little two-game buffer between them and the third-seeded 49ers. If they slip up against the Bucs, San Francisco would drop to 4-2 in conference play, giving the Lions another slight edge up.

Of course, the awkward part of all this is that if the standings stood as they are above, Detroit would have to face the Vikings three times in four weeks: Week 16, Week 18, and the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

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