NFC playoff picture: Lions take control of the North
The Lions play every year on Thanksgiving, but they’re rarely a first-place team. This year they are, and they’re going to be tough for the rest of the division to catch.
After Detroit beat Minnesota today, the Lions have both a one-game lead over the Vikings in the North and a season-sweep, ensuring them the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Lions win four of their five remaining games, they win the division no matter what any other team does.
Here’s how the playoff race in the NFC shapes up, starting with the other NFC team that won on Thanksgiving:
1. Cowboys (10-1): Dallas keeps rolling around toward home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
2. Seahawks (7-2-1): Seattle has all but clinched the NFC West.
3. Lions (7-4): The Lions’ lead in the NFC North makes them hard to catch.
4. Falcons (6-4): Atlanta has the lead in the division, but if there’s one NFC division leader that’s going to get caught, it’s probably the Falcons.
5. Giants (7-3): The Giants are two and a half games behind the Cowboys, but their head-to-head win over the Cowboys in Week One gives them at least some hope of catching the NFC East leaders.
6. Washington (6-4-1): Today’s loss probably guarantees that Washington will have to get into the playoffs as a wild card, if they’re getting in at all.
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7. Vikings (6-5): Six weeks ago, the Vikings were the NFL’s only undefeated team. Now they’re not even a playoff team.
8. Buccaneers (5-5): Only a game back of the Falcons in the NFC South.
9. Eagles (5-5) : Philly is a good team, but in a good NFC East they’re also a last-place team.
10. Cardinals (4-5-1): They won’t catch the Seahawks in the NFC West and have a very uphill climb to get a wild card.
11. Saints (4-6): Catching both the Falcons and the Buccaneers in the NFC South will be a tall order.
12. Panthers (4-6): The reigning NFC champions don’t appear headed back to the playoffs.
13. Rams (4-6): The Rams aren’t mathematically out of it, but common sense says they have no chance.
14. Packers (4-6): Green Bay probably has to run the table, and even that may not be enough to pass the Vikings and Lions in the North.
15. Bears (2-8): Year 2 of the John Fox era has been a disaster.
16. 49ers (1-9): The only interesting question remaining for the 49ers is whether they’ll beat the Bears in Week 13 with last place in the NFC on the line.