Detroit Lions would make playoffs with win over Packers if NFL decides to add 8th team

NFL reportedly considering addition of 8th playoff team to both conferences this year

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – The NFL is reportedly considering adding an additional playoff team in each conference this year, and that would mean the Detroit Lions could control their own destiny and make the postseason with a win over the Packers.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported overnight that the NFL will not be adding teams to the playoffs.

Why would the NFL consider this?

When the Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was postponed this week because of the serious injury to Damar Hamlin (read the latest update on his health here), it created a tricky scheduling situation for the league.

The Bills (12-3) and Bengals (11-4) are both in the running for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. But since the Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) have now played an extra game, they hold the top spot over the Bills by percentage points.

The No. 1 overall seed in each league is awarded a bye in the first round, which is a significant advantage. The seeding of the Bills and Bengals would also determine who plays the No. 6 seed and who plays the No. 7 seed -- and there will be a big difference in the quality of those two opponents.

According to a report by NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, Bills-Bengals is not likely to be made up before the postseason. That’s not a surprise since the first round is scheduled to begin in less than 10 days.

So the NFL will need to decide how to determine the playoff bracket.

Alternative solutions

Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk, wrote that one solution the NFL considered was to play the NFC wildcard round the weekend of Jan. 14-15, as scheduled, and finish the Bills-Bengals game that weekend. Then, the AFC wildcard round would be played the following weekend with the surviving NFC teams on bye.

Ultimately, that would wipe out the extra week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. It would also put the Bills and Bengals at a disadvantage, as their lower-seeded wildcard round opponents would get a week off while those teams played each other.

“There’s no appetite for that approach,” Florio wrote.

The NFL could also seed the AFC playoff teams by winning percentage without any resolution to the Bills-Bengals game.

“But there are concerns about equity, given that the winner of the Bills-Bengals game would have been in position to be one of the top seed AFC seeds,” the report says.

Here’s the part that could affect the Lions: Florio says one possibility under consideration is to add an eighth team to the playoff field in the AFC, thereby eliminating the runaway advantage of being the No. 1 seed. To keep both leagues even, the NFC would also add an eighth team for this year, according to the report.

For this temporary playoff expansion to take place, the NFL Players Association would have to agree.

“However it plays out, a decision needs to be made soon, especially if the playoff field will unexpectedly grow in both conferences,” Florio said. “It changes the dynamics for the teams vying for playoff positioning.”

Why this would help the Lions

If the playoff field expands, it would add even more juice to this weekend’s Sunday Night Football game between the Lions and Packers on Local 4 News.

RELATED: Here’s what the Detroit Lions need to happen this weekend in order to make the playoffs

Right now, the Lions need the lowly Los Angeles Rams to beat the Seattle Seahawks to even have a chance at a playoff spot. But if the NFC adds an eighth team, the Lions would guarantee themselves a playoff spot with a win in Green Bay.

Since the Rams are one of the worst teams in the NFL, their chances of winning at Seattle are slim, especially with the Seahawks fighting for their playoff lives. Chances are the Lions would be reduced to trying to play spoiler against the Packers on Sunday night.

READ: Will Detroit Lions be fighting for playoff spot or just to spoil Packers’ season on Sunday night?

But whether Seattle wins or loses would become nearly irrelevant in this case. With a win over the Packers, the Lions would earn the No. 7 seed if Seattle lost or the No. 8 seed if Seattle won.

A Seahawks loss to the Rams would clinch a playoff spot for the Packers, perhaps making Sunday night even more manageable for the Lions. But most importantly, no matter what, Detroit would control its own destiny for the first time since a 1-6 start.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.