Lions can clinch playoff spot vs. Cowboys

The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Saturday damaged their playoff chances but helped the Detroit Lions'.

Due to the Bucs’ loss, the Lions (9-5) can clinch a playoff berth by defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

The Buccaneers’ loss locked up the NFC South title for the Atlanta Falcons (10-5) and ensured a wild card for the New York Giants (10-5). Now Tampa Bay (8-7) must win the season finale against Carolina and hope for losses by Washington (vs. Giants) and Green Bay (vs. Lions) next week. If that happens, a complicated tiebreaker based on strength of victories will decide the final playoff spot between the Bucs and Packers.

Regardless of what the Lions do Monday night, the NFC North division title won’t be decided until the regular-season finale at Ford Field on Jan. 1. That is a winner-take-all showdown between the Packers and Lions for the division crown.

Mark Ingram rushed for two touchdowns and a game-sealing first down in the final minutes in the Saints’ 31-24 victory over the Bucs.

Drew Brees was 23 of 34 for 299 yards and a touchdown for New Orleans (7-8).

Roberto Aguayo’s 35-yard field goal pulled Tampa Bay within a touchdown at the two-minute warning. An onside kick failed when Saints receiver Brandin Cooks recovered. Then New Orleans handed the ball to Ingram three times for a first down to run out the clock.


Lions vs. Packers will decide NFC North title