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NFC playoff picture: Detroit Lions on verge of clinching playoffs, division

The Detroit Lions are a game away from clinching the division and could clinch a playoff spot by the end of Week 15.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions rebounded emphatically on Saturday night with a decisive win over the Denver Broncos. Combined with the Minnesota Vikings’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier in the day, the Lions are now just a single win away from clinching the division—something they haven’t done in 30 years.

Let’s take a closer look at the NFC North and the entire conference to see where the Lions stand and just how close they are to clinching both a postseason berth and their first-ever NFC North championship.

NFC North

  1. Lions: 10-4
  2. Vikings: 7-7
  3. Packers: 6-7
  4. Bears: 5-8

The Lions’ lead is now three games with only three weeks remaining. With both the Vikings and Packers only capable of a maximum of 10 wins, all it takes is one more Lions win to clinch the division. It can be any of their remaining three games (at Vikings, at Cowboys, vs. Vikings).

They can also clinch the division if the Vikings and Packers lose one more game each. Here are their remaining schedules:

Vikings:

  • vs. Lions
  • vs. Packers
  • at Lions

Packers:

Again, if the Vikings and Packers each lose one more game, it doesn’t matter what the Lions do, the division will be theirs.

NFC Playoff Picture

Division leaders

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

Wild Card race (top three advance)

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

Suddenly, we can start talking about the Lions and the No. 1 seed again, as they are tied with the 49ers and Cowboys with 10 wins. It’s still a bit of a longshot, but if Detroit plays as well as they did against the Broncos... who knows? Remember, the Lions will have their shot at the Cowboys in Week 17 for what could be a critical game in seeding.

As for clinching the playoffs, the Lions are incredibly close and could clinch on Sunday or Monday. Here are the possible scenarios:

  1. Seahawks loss/tie to Eagles (MNF)
  2. Buccaneers loss/tie to Packers + Rams loss/tie to Commanders
  3. Falcons loss/tie to Panthers + Rams loss/tie to Commanders
  4. Falcons loss/tie to Panthers + Packers loss/tie to Buccaneers + Rams loss/tie to Commanders
  5. Packers/Buccaneers tie + Rams loss/tie to Commanders

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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.