The 2023 regular season comes to a close on Sunday night, and, thankfully, that is not the end of the Detroit Lions’ story. After clinching the NFC North a couple weeks ago, the Lions will be hosting a playoff game in Ford Field for the first time ever next week.
But their opponent has yet to be determined. There’s not much the Lions can do at this point to impact their fate—their chance at moving from the three seed to two is far-fetched—but that doesn’t mean we can’t root for our favorite scenarios. On Saturday, I laid out every possible first-round playoff opponent the Lions could have and the path to get them there.
Now let’s talk about realism. While there are a ton of different scenarios in front of Detroit, they are not all equally likely. So today’s Question of the Day is:
Who will be the Lions’ first-round opponent in the 2024 playoffs?
My answer: If I’m guessing based on what I think will happen, I think Detroit will host Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams next week.
This has nothing to do with “fate” or the NFL orchestrating the best storyline. This is simply what I think has the best chance of happening, and it’s fairly simple.
The Lions aren’t getting the two seed. I’ll root like hell for the Cowboys to lose to the Commanders and the Eagles to lose to the Giants, but both of those things aren’t happening. They just aren’t.
Which means it’s already down to just the Rams and Green Bay Packers as possible opponents. I’m not going to try and guess who’s going to win the battle of the backups between the Rams and 49ers, but I do think the Chicago Bears are going to beat the Packers on Sunday afternoon.
While the Packers have had a red-hot offense over the past two months—ranking second in the NFL in EPA since Week 11—the Bears should not be overlooked. Their defense has been incredible over the same time period, ranking first in EPA. That kind of strength-against-strength matchup is going to be fascinating to watch, but I think the inverse matchup will be the deciding factor in the game.
The Bears offense isn’t electric, but Justin Fields gives them a unique weapon, and DJ Moore is explosive. Meanwhile, the Packers defense remains one of the worst in the league.
So if and when the Bears beat the Packers, it’ll mean it’s time for a flooding of Stafford and Jared Goff storylines. Prepare yourself.
Who do you think will be the Lions’ first-round opponent? Vote in the poll below and share your reasoning in the comment section below.
Who will be the Lions’ first-round playoff opponent?
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