How the Detroit Lions can make the playoffs

The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford

The Detroit Lions (8-6) need to win their final two games to have a shot at making the playoffs. Here are the possibilities:

Scenario 1: Atlanta (9-5) loses its final two games. And there’s a realistic possibility of this happening with the two foes in the mix for the NFC South crown. The Lions could end up tied with the Seahawks (8-6), Rams (10-4) or Cowboys (8-6) for the final spot, but would hold tiebreakers over all three. If the Rams lose their next two, the Lions would finish with a better conference record, the second tie-breaker after head-to-head. Detroit would have the same conference record as Seattle and Dallas. Moving to the next tiebreaker, common games, Detroit holds the advantage over both, having gone 4-1. There’s no way for Detroit to jump Atlanta, which holds head-to-head tiebreakers with Dallas and Seattle, and potentially New Orleans. Atlanta holds a two-game lead in conference record.

Scenario 2: The remaining ways the Lions get in are all multi-team, tiebreaking scenarios. The Panthers would have to lose their final two games in this scenario and would be eliminated in the tiebreaker because of the worse conference record. It would then go to the teams’ common games, where the Lions beat the Seahawks and Cowboys.

Scenario 3: The other NFC South possibility is the Saints lose out with the Cowboys/Seahawks winning out. Losing out would give the Saints five conference loses, eliminating them. Again, it goes to common games, where the Lions win out.

Scenario 4: Any four- or five-team tie between Carolina/Seattle/ Dallas/New Orleans/Los Angeles/Detroit finishing 10-6 would result in Detroit making the playoffs.