In Detroit, a rough start to the season had fans all over Michigan calling for the head of Detroit Lions Head Coach, Dan Campbell. Sitting at a one-and-six record just two weeks after the bye week, nobody thought this team was going to be competing for a postseason bid in week 15. For a while, it felt as if the only one who had any unwavering faith in the Lions was their leader, Coach Campbell.
The Lions have shifted the narrative surrounding Detroit, and the stigma of losing football seems to be out the door. With a dominating offense that averages over 26.5 points per game and a defense that has shot up the DVOA (defensive-adjusted value over average) charts to 24th, it seems that the 2022 Lions found a spark midway through the season.
After a close win against Green Bay, the Lions strung together win after win. Each game became a more dominant performance than the last. Even against the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, the Lions were nearly able to win against one of the top teams in the league. There was a clear shift in Detroit. Now, following their week 14 win against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions sit at six-and-seven. With four games left to play, the Detroit Lions are in the hunt
Where do the Lions stack up in the NFC playoff race?
Currently, the Lions are the ninth team in the NFC, just two spots out of a wildcard playoff shot at number seven. Standing in their way are the New York Giants (7-5-1), Washington Commanders (7-5-1), and Seattle Seahawks (7-6). Fortunately, they sit in front of the Panthers, Packers, and Falcons, all with records of (5-8). In just the NFC North, the Lions trail the Minnesota Vikings by four games, but only have four games left to play in the regular season.
4 games left in the season and the Lions are still in the hunt for the playoffs!#OnePride pic.twitter.com/eOxrpDryoV
— Alexander Johnson (@AJohnsonSports) December 13, 2022
Key tiebreakers boost the Lions’ odds.
In the wildcard race, the Lions have two major tiebreakers. In week 2, the Lions won against the number six Commanders, and in week 11 the Lions traveled to New York to defeat the Giants. Unfortunately, they did suffer a loss to the number eight Seahawks at home in week 4 and the number 5 Cowboys in week 7. In conference, the Lions also have a better record than the Giants, Commanders, Falcons, and Seahawks at (5-4).
So, what’s next on the Lions’ schedule?
In week 15, the Lions face the toughest opponent of their last four games, the New York Jets. Wildcard chasing as well, the defensive-heavy Jets are hard to beat at home. This is an early “playoff” game for both teams, as a loss here tanks any chance of making the postseason. As just mentioned though, that is the toughest game left. Following it is the Carolina Panthers in week 16 before closing the season with two divisional games against the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. With their recent play, there is no reason the Detroit Lions can’t go 3-1 through this period, but going 4-0 would put them in the best place to make the playoffs at (10-7).
What are the odds?
Well, you can only control what you can control, so the Lions need to take care of their own work if they want to grab the seven-slot. Winning their next four games is pivotal for this to occur. Unfortunately, week 15 see’s the Commanders and Giants face each other, meaning one of them will get a win. This, paired with a loss to the Jets, would give the Detroit Lions around a 10% shot at the playoffs. This all stems from their chances coming down to the Seahawks, a team they lost to, and the Giants or Commanders finishing half a game ahead of the Lions because of that week 13 tie.
With a win over the Jets, the Lions only need the Commanders, Giants, or Seahawks to lose two of their next four games at the least. With tough schedules for all three of those teams, this seems more likely than not.
A shot at the NFC North.
Yes, even this late into the season the Detroit Lions are competing for a division title, something the team hasn’t had since 1993. Though unlikely, the Lions do have a shot at winning the division.
First, the Vikings would have to lose their four remaining games, a catastrophic implosion for the team. Especially with them playing the Colts, Giants, Packers, and Bears in their last four games. Next, the Lions would have to win out completely, going 4-0 and matching the Vikings at 10-7. In the head-to-head, the Lions and Vikings split their series, but a (5-1) division record would give the Lions the edge over the (3-3) Vikings. Not only would this come with the first division crown in my lifetime (yes I’m that young), but a home playoff game in a thunderous Ford Field.
With a 22% chance of making the playoffs, the odds seem thin. The only team to start 1-6 before making the playoffs was the 1970 Bengals in a 12-game season, so it doesn’t look great up front for the Lions. When diving into the odds, the matchups, and the tiebreakers, it looks much better than it seems. Can the Lions complete the historic turnaround? Only time will tell.
Week 15 Rooting Guide
For Playoff Opportunity
– Commanders over Giants (NO TIES!)
– 49ers over Seahawks (Thursday Night)
– Colts over Vikings
For Draft Pick
– Packers over Rams (Monday Night)
GO LIONSSSS #OnePride pic.twitter.com/Bm49lKyck7
— Honolulu Blues (@HonoluluBlues_) December 14, 2022
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