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Updated NFC Playoff picture: What Vikings loss means for Detroit Lions

Taking an updated look at the Detroit Lions push for the Playoffs, following the Minnesota Vikings Saturday afternoon loss.

Minnesota Vikings v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions entered Saturday of Week 15 with a chance to reduce their magic number to clinch the division to 1 game. But, in order for that to happen, the Lions needed to have two things occur: Lions beat the Denver Broncos in the night game and the Minnesota Vikings had to lose to the Cincinnati Bengals in the afternoon game.

Well, the Vikings did their part, falling to the Bengals 27-24 in overtime, gifting the Lions a huge opportunity to get one step closer to clinching the division.

Let’s take a look at the updated NFC North Standings:

  1. Detroit Lions: 9-4
  2. Minnesota Vikings: 7-7
  3. Green Bay Packers: 6-7
  4. Chicago Bears: 5-8

Entering Saturday night’s game against the Broncos, the Lions maintain a 2.5-game lead over the Vikings and a three-game lead over the Packers, with four games remaining.

That means, if the Lions can beat the Vikings in either of their two remaining matchups, and the Packers lose any of their remaining games, the Lions will clinch the NFC North.

Additionally, if the Lions win any two of their next four games, the North is theirs for the first time in 30 years, regardless of what happens with the Vikings and Packers.

While the Lions cannot clinch their division in Week 15, they do have 16 ways to clinch a playoff spot over the next three days.

The three quickest paths to the postseason are:

  1. Lions win + Seahawks loss/tie
  2. Lions win + Buccaneers loss/tie + Rams loss/tie
  3. Lions win + Falcons loss/tie + Rams loss/tie

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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.