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NFC Playoff Picture update: Detroit Lions get help, but division tightens

An updated look at the NFC playoff picture through Week 9, and where the Detroit Lions stand.

Las Vegas Raiders v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The NFC had some major developments in Week 9, even as both the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers stayed at home and watched during their bye. The Seattle Seahawks’ reign atop the NFC West lasted just a week, as they were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens in a strikingly familiar way. The Philadelphia Eagles made a big statement in the NFC East with a gritty win over the Dallas Cowboys. And the Minnesota Vikings loudly declared, “We aren’t dead yet.”

With both “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football” AFC matchups, let’s take a closer look at the NFC Playoff picture, and how it impacts the Lions.

NFC North

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

The Vikings and Packers both picked up wins, although neither looked particular convincing. That said, it was a gutsy road victory by Minnesota, seeing as they had to throw Josh Dobbs into the game just days after trading for him. The Atlanta Falcons may not be a good team, but it’s not easy to win on the road, and the Vikings defense continues to look much improved from last year. That will keep them in games, and if Dobbs can make some huge plays like he did on Sunday afternoon, they’re still a team to be reckoned with.

It’s just a 1.5-game lead for the Lions, and the Vikings, too, have a favorable schedule, including two matchups against Detroit in the final three games of the season.

Meanwhile, the Bears are firmly in the No. 1 pick race.

NFC Playoff Picture

Division leaders:

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

Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Seahawks: 5-3
  2. Cowboys: 5-3
  3. Vikings: 5-4
  4. Commanders: 4-5
  5. Falcons: 4-5
  6. Buccaneers: 3-5
  7. Packers: 3-5
  8. Rams: 3-6

Thanks to the Seahawks’ loss to the Ravens (that’s not so fun, huh Seattle?) the Lions have a one-game hold on the two seed. They’re still 1.5 games back of the Eagles for the top seed in the conference. And while the Cowboys couldn’t help Detroit out with a win over Philly, it’s important to remember just how tough the Eagles’ remaining schedule is.

  • BYE
  • @ Chiefs
  • vs. Bills
  • vs. 49ers
  • @ Cowboys
  • @ Seahawks
  • vs. Giants
  • vs. Cardinals
  • @ Giants

The next five games are an absolute gauntlet. It’s a strong opportunity for the Lions—and really any other NFC contender—to jump a couple spots if the Eagles slip up over that stretch.

But most importantly of all, the Lions just need to keep winning.

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