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Detroit Lions Week 9 rooting guide: Best outcomes for playoff picture

Our Week 9 Detroit Lions rooting guide provides the optimal outcomes for the NFC playoff picture and an updated look at the standings.

NFL: OCT 30 Raiders at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s the second consecutive Sunday without Detroit Lions football, which means another relaxing day of nine, 13 straight hours in front of the television. With the addition of the Germany game this week, there are four timeslots of games on Sunday, giving you plenty of reasons to delay picking up all those leaves in the backyard.

Of course, while the Lions may not be playing on Sunday, they will be impacted by the results from Week 9. So, let’s take a look at the most important games on the slate and which teams you should be rooting for in order to produce the best possible playoff results for the Lions.

This week, I’ve changed the format a bit, highlighting the games that matter the most at the top.

Pay attention to these games

Seahawks (5-2) at Ravens (6-2) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Arguably the most important game of the week for the Lions. The Seahawks may pose the biggest threat to a high seed in the NFC playoff race due to their head-to-head win over the Lions. A win by Seattle would push the Lions down to a three-seed, while a loss would drop the Seahawks into a two-way tie for the NFC West lead (the 49ers currently have the tiebreaker), and give Detroit sole possession for the two-seed.

Root for: Ravens

Vikings (4-4) at Falcons (4-4) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

The Vikings remain the Lions’ biggest competition in the NFC North despite losing quarterback Kirk Cousins for the season. Looking at what has made the Vikings successful through eight weeks: their defense ranks 10th in DVOA while their passing offense ranks 12th. The latter is going to take a significant hit, but their surprisingly strong defense this year will keep them competitive. While a Falcons win could potentially raise the floor of a Wild Card spot, there’s no reason to fear any team in the NFC South, let alone one the Lions already beat.

Root for: Falcons

Cowboys (5-2) at Eagles (7-1) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Rooting for the Cowboys seems icky, but if you want the Lions to have a shot at the one seed, that is, without a doubt, the best possible outcome this week. Sure, it would move the Cowboys to a matching record of 6-2, but the Lions can control their own destiny against Dallas in their Week 17 matchup. Detroit can’t do anything about Philly, but their gauntlet of a schedule should produce some losses.

Root for: Cowboys

The ‘Screw over the Bears’ draft picks’ section

Cardinals (1-7) at Browns (4-3) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

AFC over NFC but for reasons that have nothing to do with playoffs. This is a full effort to hurt the Chicago Bears’ draft position. They currently hold their own and the Panthers’ first-round pick, so we need bad teams to finish even worse than them. The Cardinals are a great candidate to tank harder, as they currently hold the first overall pick.

Root for: Browns

Commanders (3-5) at Patriots (2-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Again, the Commanders aren’t much of a real threat to the Lions, particularly after they traded two of their best defensive players this week. So I’m going to go against AFC over NFC rules and hope that the Patriots become a real contender for the first overall pick.

Root for: Commanders

Bears (2-6) at Saints (4-4) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Well, if we’re rooting against the Bears’ draft position, certainly we have to root for Chicago, right? I suppose so, but I’d rather phrase it as rooting against a Saints team that has a legitimate chance to win their division, especially with the easiest remaining schedule by DVOA.

Root for: Bears

Colts (3-5) at Panthers (1-6) — 4:05 p.m. ET — CBS

Continuing our theme of tanking the Bears’ draft capital, we need the Panthers to go on a bit of a winning streak here. The first one is always the toughest, and this Colts team is vulnerable.

Root for: Panthers

Giants (2-6) at Raiders (3-5)— 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX

Remember when Brian Daboll won Coach of the Year over Dan Campbell last year? Good times.

Anyway, the Giants are terrible and have a legit shot at a top-five draft pick, so let’s see them continue to fail. Maybe the Raiders get that interim head coach bump.

Root for: Raiders

Doesn’t matter much, but for thoroughness

Rams (3-5) at Packers (2-5) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

This is a bit of a toss-up. Both teams look really bad and don’t pose much of a threat to Detroit right now. Tie goes to FTP. I mean, how funny would it be for Green Bay to lose to Brett Rypien?

Root for: Rams

Buccaneers (3-4) at Texans (3-4) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

AFC over NFC, even if the Bucs don’t pose much of a threat to Detroit after the Lions beat them on the road earlier this season.

Root for Texans.

If all those outcomes happen, here’s what the NFC North standings would look like:

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

Lions in first place, Packers in last place. What could be better?

[Editor’s note: All of them, I want all of them in last place, that could be better. All of them just flailing in last place together.]

And here’s what the NFC playoff standings would look like:

Note: I am not taking into consideration tiebreakers yet

1. Eagles: 7-2
2. Lions: 6-2
3. 49ers: 5-3
4. Falcons: 5-4

Wild card (top three advance)

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

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