DETROIT – There’s one weekend left in the NFL season, and the Detroit Lions only need two things to happen in order to make the playoffs.
Detroit returned to its winning ways to kick off 2023, blasting the Chicago Bears by 31 points to improve to 8-8 on the season. The team has won seven of nine games since a miserable 1-6 start.
Six of the seven NFC playoff spots have officially been clinched, with the New York Giants joining the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Three teams are alive for the final spot: The Lions, the Green Bay Packers, and the Seattle Seahawks. All three are 8-8 entering the final week of the regular season.
Between the Lions and Packers, the situation is simple: Whoever wins Sunday at Lambeau Field will stay alive, and whoever loses is eliminated.
In fact, the Packers are guaranteed the final playoff spot if they beat the Lions. Unfortunately for Detroit, the equation isn’t quite so simple.
In addition to needing a win themselves, the Lions also need the Los Angeles Rams to beat (or tie) the Seahawks. Since they won the head-to-head meeting at Ford Field on Oct. 2, the Seahawks will get in over the Lions if the two teams both finish 9-8.
Most fans in Detroit are aware of how bad the Rams have been this season. After starting the year 3-3, the defending Super Bowl champions have taken a nosedive, losing eight of 10 games.
The Seahawks had been on their own downward spiral, losing five of six (with the only win coming over the Rams). That changed this weekend with a 23-6 dismantling of the New York Jets.
Yes, the outlook is bleak, but that’s to be expected for any team that starts a season 1-6. The Lions are fortunate to have any playoff hopes at all, let alone a path as straightforward as this one.
Green Bay has been on fire of late, ripping off four straight wins, including a road victory against playoff hopeful Miami and a 41-17 drubbing of NFC North champion Minnesota.
The Lions will likely be slight underdogs, and the Rams will likely be major underdogs. But heading into the final week of the season, there’s still a sliver of postseason hope for Detroit.