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NFL playoff picture: Top NFC seeds remain in play for Detroit Lions after Eagles loss

The Detroit Lions did not clinch a playoff spot in Week 15, but their playoff seeding opportunities just opened up.

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

The Detroit Lions aren’t going to the playoffs... yet

After the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions’ clinching of a playoff spot got delayed one more week. Detroit’s playoff odds remain around 99 percent, but they’ll have to wait at least a few more days to make it official.

That said, an Eagles loss suddenly opens up an opportunity for the Lions to climb higher than their current seeding, which is third in the NFC. And the Lions have much higher aspirations than just a playoff berth.

“We came into this (year) saying we’ve got to win this division,” Campbell said. “That’s the goal, and that’s where it is. If something happens between now and then, hey that’s all good, but that is our focus. We talked about that this morning as a team. That was the focus when we entered it and that is still the focus.”

With three more weeks to go, the Lions are on the verge of doing just that. Let’s take a closer look at the updated NFC playoff picture through all of Week 15.

First, let’s look at the division.

NFC North

  1. Lions: 10-4
  2. Vikings: 7-7
  3. Packers: 6-8
  4. Bears: 5-9

The Lions hold a three game divisional lead with three weeks left. Mathematically, it’s just a two-team race between the Vikings and the Lions, and the clinching scenario for Detroit is simple. Win one more game and it’s over — OR — if the Vikings lose one more game, it’s over. That’s it.

NFC playoff picture through Week 15

Division leaders

  1. 49ers: 11-3
  2. Cowboys: 10-4
  3. Lions: 10-4
  4. Buccaneers: 7-7

Wild Card race (top three advance)

5. Eagles: 10-4
6. Vikings: 7-7
7. Rams: 7-7
8. Seahawks: 7-7
8. Saints: 7-7
9. Falcons: 6-8
10. Packers: 6-8
11. Giants: 5-9
12. Bears: 5-9

The Lions’ chance at the one seed is still a long shot because the 49ers look amazing and they have a pretty unbeatable 9-1 conference record, which is the primary tiebreaker. That said, San Francisco has some tricky games left on the schedule:

  • vs. Ravens
  • at Commanders
  • vs. Rams

If the 49ers drop two of those games, and the Lions win out, Detroit would jump them.

The No. 2 seed is very much in play for Detroit. The Lions will be able to gain a critical game on the Cowboys in their Week 17 head-to-head matchup.

That said, the Eagles will still be difficult to jump if Philly retains the NFC East lead. Though the Lions have the same conference record as the Eagles (6-3), Philly has a very easy remaining schedule:

  • vs. Giants
  • vs. Cardinals
  • at Giants

If the Lions and the Eagles both win out, however, the Lions will hold the overall tiebreaker. With a tie in conference record, it would go to record in common games. Detroit would hold that edge, 5-1 to 4-2. (Common games are Chiefs, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Vikings and Cowboys).

So if the Lions win out, they will—at the very least—have the No. 2 overall seed.

As for the postseason, it’s only a matter of time before the Lions officially clinch a playoff spot. We’ll examine Detroit’s clinching scenarios for Week 16 at a later date.

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