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NFC Playoff picture update: Detroit Lions get big help from Chicago Bears

An updated look at the NFC playoff picture through Week 12, and where the Detroit Lions stand.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With a tough loss on Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions’ odds to win the division took a minor hit, and their odds to take away the No. 1 seed in the conference have all but disappeared. But much of that changed on Monday night. In an ugly NFC North bout, the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears after turning the ball over four times by a score of 12-10.

Let’s take a look at how that game has impacted the playoff race both in the NFC North and for the overall NFC playoff picture.

NFC North

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

Detroit’s lead in the NFC North remains at 2.5 games, as it stood entering Week 12. And with the Vikings’ loss, the Lions’ odds to win the division remains at a very strong 94 percent, according to the New York Times playoff simulator.

The Lions and Vikings still play each other twice, so that can change in a hurry. But the Lions have some serious breathing room now, and that’s good news since Detroit is currently struggling.

NFC Playoff Picture

Division leaders:

  1. Eagles: 10-1
  2. 49ers: 8-3
  3. Lions: 8-3
  4. Falcons: 5-6

Wild Card race (top three advance)

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

The Lions retain a three-game lead over the top team out of the playoff picture, but there are now three teams with that 5-6 record: the Packers, Rams, and Saints. All three of those teams are very much in the playoff picture now.

Meanwhile, the team that is in most danger of losing their spot is the Seahawks, who have lost three of their last four games. Their playoff odds have actually fallen below that of the Rams, likely due to the fact that Los Angeles has beaten them twice already. The Vikings are on shaky ground, too. Not only are their divisional odds in trouble, but their overall chances of making the playoffs are down to 52 percent, per the NYT.

What does this mean for the Lions? Well, if the Lions continue to struggle, there are now more teams we’ll have to monitor to ensure they don’t go on runs. The more teams in the competition, the more you’re in danger of losing your spot. You should be actively rooting against the Packers, Rams, Saints, and Seahawks from now until the end of the season.

Of course, if the Lions win even half of their remaining games, you won’t really have to monitor this situation at all. The Lions’ playoff odds remain at 99%, per NYT, and an 11-6 record makes them nearly impossible to catch. That said, this scrapping at the bottom of the Wild Card race will obviously have some big impacts on the first-round matchups of the playoffs, so it’s worth keeping an eye on anyway.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.