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Week 14 rooting guide: How Detroit Lions could get No. 1 NFC seed

The Detroit Lions could hold the No. 1 seed in the NFC by the end of Week 14. Here are how the games need to play out.

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ultimately, the Detroit Lions only need to take care of their own business to get into the playoffs and clinch their first divisional title in over 30 years. If Detroit wins three of their last five games, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does: the Lions will have a home playoff game.

But there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help along the way. Why not alleviate a little anxiety with the demise of your enemies?

Let’s take a look at the best possible outcome for Week 14, and how it will impact the Detroit Lions’ playoff odds.

Here is your Week 14 Detroit Lions rooting guide:

Buccaneers (5-7) at Falcons (6-6) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Root for: Buccaneers

The Lions swept the NFC South, so nobody in that division is really a true threat to Detroit’s playoff chances. However, a Bucs win puts them right back into the playoff race with a chance at a divisional title.

Why is that important? Because we want Tampa Bay as motivated as possible for their game next week against the Green Bay Packers.

Panthers (1-11) at Saints (5-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Panthers

This has nothing to do with the Lions and everything to do with the Bears’ first-round pick. Unfortunately, Carolina is likely to hand Chicago the first overall pick—especially with the Patriots winning on Thursday. But let’s put a little faith into the Panthers rattling off a couple of late-season wins.

Rams (6-6) at Ravens (9-3) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Ravens

If the Lions fall apart, there are four 6-6 teams they may have to worry about: the Rams, Packers, Vikings, and Seahawks. The quicker those four teams lose, the quicker Detroit can clinch a playoff spot. If everything goes the right way, the Lions could clinch as quickly as next week.

Vikings (6-6) at Raiders (5-7) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Raiders

Easy one. Root AFC over NFC and keep the Vikings at bay in the NFC North race. In fact, if Minnesota can pile up a bunch of losses now, they may have little to play for when Detroit faces them in two of the final three weeks of the season.

Seahawks (6-6) at 49ers (9-3) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX

Root for: Seahawks

This is a bit of a toss-up, as both outcomes have good results for Detroit. If you’re rooting for that No. 1 seed, a 49ers loss is best. They look like the best team in the NFC right now, but a loss and a Lions win would push Detroit to the No. 2 seed. Additionally, it would give San Francisco a second loss in the conference, which would be huge for tiebreakers.

But if the 49ers win, that’s good news for the Lions’ overall playoff odds. Handing the Seahawks—another one of those 6-6 teams—another loss is great, because not only could they theoretically catch Detroit, but they also have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.

Eagles (10-2) at Cowboys (9-3) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Root for: Cowboys

Again, if you’re seeking the No. 1 seed, this is the best outcome by far. It could theoretically even up the Eagles and Lions in overall record, and Detroit would actually hold the temporary tiebreaker by conference record (if the Lions beat the Bears): 7-2 to 6-2.

However, this could shift the balance of the NFC East. If Philly falls behind Dallas and the Cowboys hold the divisional lead, that’s good for Detroit, too. Because the Lions will have their shot at earning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys with a Week 17 matchup coming down the pike.

Packers (6-6) at Giants (4-8) — MONDAY — 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN/ABC

Root for: Giants

Break out a chicken parm sandwich and root like hell for Tommy Devito. The Packers are surging and likely Detroit’s biggest threat to the NFC North crown. A loss on primetime to the Giants may sink their chances for good.


NFC Playoff picture

If all of the above outcomes fall the Lions way, and they beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon, here’s what the playoff picture would look like:

NFC North:

  • Lions: 10-3
  • Vikings: 6-7
  • Packers: 6-7
  • Bears: 4-9

The Lions would hold a four-game lead in the division with just four weeks left. That would push their magic number to one—meaning if they win one more game down the stretch, the division is theirs. Detroit would also clinch with another Vikings AND Packers loss.

These results would push Detroit’s divisional odds to 99% according to the New York Times’ playoff simulator (over 260,000 simulations). You can just taste it.

NFC standings

  1. Lions: 10-3
  2. Cowboys: 10-3
  3. 49ers: 9-4
  4. Buccaneers: 6-7

The Cowboys would take the divisional lead over the Eagles due to a better record in the division (4-1 vs. 3-1). The Lions would hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys due to a better record (7-2) in the conference than Dallas (7-3).

That said, per the NYT simulator, the Lions would still only have a 13% chance to maintain that top seed by the end of the season.


Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Eagles: 10-3
  2. Seahawks: 7-6
  3. Vikings: 6-7
  4. Packers: 6-7
  5. Falcons: 6-7
  6. Rams: 6-7
  7. Giants: 5-8
  8. Saints: 5-8

With these results, the Wild Card race would heat up exponentially. Essentially, we’d have seven teams fighting for the two spots behind the Eagles, which could make for some fun football down the stretch.

In case you were wondering, the Lions’ overall playoff odds in this scenario would be “>99%” per the simulator.

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