18 December 2011
With the Lions now at 9-5 on the season with 2 games left to play, the one question fans are asking is, "How do the Lions clinch a wild card?"
These are the only wild cards I've been dealt over the past decade...
The scenarios follow...
Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans are headed to the playoffs. Atlanta and Detroit already have nine victories apiece, so if each goes 1-1 or better to finish the season, Arizona and Seattle are out.
Atlanta plays at New Orleans and home against Tampa Bay. It's likely the Falcons will win one of those. Detroit plays at home against San Diego and on the road against Green Bay in a game the Packers might not need to win, particularly now that an unbeaten season is out of the question.
Lots of scenarios come into play if Seattle or Arizona finish 9-7 and get some help. Tie games are another possibility to consider.
The Chicago Bears have NOT been eliminated from the playoffs but would need a series of improbable scenarios to occur to make it.
The Detroit Lions have NOT clinched a playoff spot but are in awfully good shape to make their first appearance since 1999.
After playing with the ESPN.com Playoff Machine, it's clear there are scenarios where the Bears would beat the Lions in a tiebreaker if both teams finish 9-7. That would mean the Bears winning Sunday night at Lambeau Field, among many other things, but it remains mathematically possible.
So this is what needs to happen in weeks 16 and 17 (I think):
Lions win out, finish 2-0 at 11-5: Clinch wild card in week 16.
Lions split, finish 1-1 at 10-6: Clinch wild card in the week they get the win, be it 16 or 17.
Lions choke, finish 0-2 (God forbid) at 9-7: Need one loss each from the Bears, Cardinals and Seahawks in weeks 16 or 17, and the Lions can back in, regardless.
But to simplify things, if the Lions win at home against the Chargers next Sunday, nothing else matters. The Lions will be one of the NFC wild cards.
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