NFL: What Do the Lions Need to do to Make the Playoffs

NFL Sports News


  • Christmas came early for the Detroit Lions, with everything falling their way in Week 15. Now the Lions are one win away from a playoff spot and an NFC North division title.
  • The Lions still have a shot at the top seed in the NFC.
  • Looking ahead, the Lions potential wild card opponent could be someone super familiar with Detroit.

It’s all happening Lion fans. It’s really happening.

Thanks to Nick Mullens incompetence and Bengals kicker Evan McPherson and a clueless Packers defense, the Lions enter Week 16 in the NFL with a clear path to the playoffs and division title.

Win on Christmas Eve against the Vikings in Minnesota and start printing those playoff tickets, or win the next week, or the week after that.

This is the moment Michigan sports betting fans have been waiting for. The Lions have opened as favorites over the Vikings at DraftKings, while FanDuel and BetMGM each have markets on who will win the NFC North, make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

It’s not time yet to pack for Vegas yet and Super Bowl LVIII, but it’s all right if you want to take the suitcase down from the attic.

One and Done 

The weekend was perfection for the Lions. Minnesota couldn’t hold a late lead and lost to the Bengals Saturday afternoon. Then Lions rookie star tight end Sam LaPorta had three touchdown catches in a 42-17 rout of the Denver Broncos Saturday night. Then Sunday, the Bucs ran through the Packers defense.

When the final highlights show ended Sunday night, the Lions were 10-4 with a three game lead over the Vikings in the NFC North with three games to play.

This means one combination of a Lions win – any win, or a Vikings loss, any loss -- and the Lions can start printing NFC North championship t-shirts.

The Path To No. 1 

It’s almost like the NFL schedule-makers knew what they were doing, because the Lions are still very much in play for the top seed in the NFC and the precious bye week (only the top team in each conference gets a bye).

A win over Minnesota Sunday sets the stage for a showdown in Dallas with the Cowboys in Week 17. After losing Sunday to the Bills – another thing that went the Lions way -- the Cowboys are also 10-4. Dallas plays Miami this week in a big showdown, and is still fighting the Eagles for the top spot in the NFC East.

A victory over the Cowboys would give the Lions the first tiebreaker in any scenario with the Cowboys if they both finish with the same record and as division champs. San Francisco is the No. 1 seed now, but not by much. They still have to play the best team in the AFC, the Ravens, and the Rams in Week 18, and the Rams may be playing for a lot that week because….

Stafford, yes, Stafford 

Speaking of the Rams, the Rams and Lions franchises are connected now through the quarterbacks trade for Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. The Rams won the Super Bowl in 2022 with Stafford and are now sitting as one of two NFC wild card spots available (the second place team out of Dallas/Philly is basically a lock as the No. 5 seed).

Does this mean we could get a showdown of Stafford and the Rams in Detroit for the Wild Card Round? You better believe it. Lion fans have mixed feelings on Stafford. A Lions-Rams playoff game would be incredible.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.