DETROIT – The Detroit Lions will play one of the most meaningful games of the entire NFL season this weekend -- the question is whether a playoff spot will be on the line for both teams or just the Packers.
Detroit’s final game has been flexed to Sunday Night Football because no matter what happens, the NFC’s final wildcard spot will be at stake.
If the Seattle Seahawks tie or lose to the Los Angeles Rams, then the Lions can get into the playoffs with a win over the Green Bay Packers.
Meanwhile, the Packers would clinch a postseason berth with a win over the Lions regardless of what else happens around the league.
- If the Seahawks win and the Packers win, the Packers make the playoffs.
- If the Seahawks lose (or tie) and the Packers win, the Packers make the playoffs.
- If the Seahawks lose (or tie) and the Lions win, the Lions make the playoffs.
The Rams and Seahawks kick off at 4:25 p.m. Sunday from Lumen Field in Seattle. That means the Lions will know whether their hopes are alive well before their own game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. on Local 4.
Detroit got itself into this position by winning seven of its last nine games following a 1-6 start. A 37-23 loss at Carolina on Christmas Eve could end up being costly, but it’s difficult to go two months without a misstep in the NFL.
Green Bay has also been red-hot. After falling to 4-8 at the end of November, the Packers ripped off four wins in a row to get to 8-8. Now they’re the only team in the race to control their own destiny.
The Lions are counting on a Rams team that has dropped eight of 10 games since the middle of October. Without Matthew Stafford (out due to injury), the only two wins for the Rams came over the terrible Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos.
Even though Seattle has been struggling in the second half (2-5 since Week 9), it shouldn’t have much of a problem playing the Rams at home with playoff hopes on the line. Right now, the Seahawks are 6.5-point favorites.
If the Seahawks win, the Lions will know their heroic playoff push came up just short. But they would still have plenty of motivation to try to keep a division rival and one of the most unlikeable quarterbacks in the league from getting in.