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Updated NFC playoff picture: Detroit Lions closing in on clinching postseason spot

The Detroit Lions are in very good shape in the NFC Playoff race, but there are a few surging teams in the Wild Card race.

NFL: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

With a win over the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions are 9-3 and that much closer to clinching a postseason berth and maybe—just maybe—their first division title in over 30 years.

With only five weeks left in the regular season, there aren’t many teams in a better spot in both their division and the overall playoff race. By some accounts, the Lions’ postseason odds are above 99 percent, and their chances to win the division are hovering around 95 percent.

Let’s take a closer look at the NFC Playoff Picture and how Week 13’s games impacted the outlook.

First, here are the current NFC North standings:

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

Detroit extended their lead to three games, with the Bears and the Vikings on a bye this week. That said, with the Packers’ improbable win against the Kansas City Chiefs, they remain alive in the divisional race.

Of course, a three-game lead with five weeks remaining is a great position for the Lions to be in. That said, the Packers have won four of their last five games, and their upcoming schedule looks VERY EASY:

  • @ Giants
  • vs. Bucs
  • @ Panthers
  • @ Vikings
  • vs. Bears

If Green Bay goes 5-0 over that stretch—or even 4-1—it will keep the pressure on Detroit to keep winning.

NFC Playoff Picture

  1. Eagles: 10-2
  2. 49ers: 9-3
  3. Lions: 9-3
  4. Falcons: 6-6

The Lions inch a little closer to the No. 1 seed with the 49ers’ big win over the Eagles. However, Detroit remains critically behind both teams when it comes to the conference record tiebreaker. Detroit is 6-2 in the conference, while the 49ers are 7-1 and the Eagles are now 6-1. Obviously, that can change in a hurry, but the Lions seem to be settling in at the three-seed right now.


Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Cowboys: 9-3
  2. Vikings: 6-6
  3. Packers: 6-6
  4. Rams: 6-6
  5. Seahawks: 6-6
  6. Buccaneers: 5-7
  7. Saints: 5-7

There is a logjam at 6-6 for the NFC Wild Card race, and the Lions have a three-game lead over all of them with five games left. That may hold off Detroit clinching scenarios for one more week, but if the Lions can continue to win, they won’t need to worry about a Wild Card spot.

Interestingly, the NFC North currently has three teams IN the playoff picture, but beware of the Los Angeles Rams. They have now won three in a row, and they hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks—but the Packers hold the tiebreaker over the Rams.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules of each 6-6 team:

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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.