Detroit Lions NFL playoff scenarios: Here's what they need in final week

The Detroit Lions did their part on Sunday by beating the Bears, 41-10, to improve to 8-8; they also got some help from their Great Lakes brethren from Cleveland as the Browns beat the Commanders, 24-10.

That dropped Washington to 7-8-1, half a game behind the 8-8 Lions, with one game left for each team. Unfortunately for the Lions, the two other teams who entered the week at 7-8 — the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks — both prevailed at home (over the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets, respectively).

Although the Lions have clinched just their fifth eight-win season since the start of the century (with the NFL going to a 17-game schedule last season), they'll still need some help to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Lions quarterback Jared Goff embrace after the game at Ford Field on Jan. 1, 2023 in Detroit.
Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Lions quarterback Jared Goff embrace after the game at Ford Field on Jan. 1, 2023 in Detroit.

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Here’s what the Lions need to wrap up a playoff berth in Week 18 (though we won’t know when the game is until the schedule is finalized on Monday night):

1. A win over the Packers in Green Bay.

2. A loss by the Seahawks when they host the L.A. Rams.

If both the Seahawks and Lions win, Seattle gets the spot thanks to its Week 4 win in Detroit. If Green Bay wins, it gets the spot, regardless of Seattle’s game thanks to a better record vs. NFC teams. (One last scenario: Ties in both Seattle and Green Bay, plus a win by Washington over Dallas, would give the Lions the edge in a pool of four 8-8-1 teams. The two ties and a Washington loss hands the spot to the Seahawks)

And, of course, the game between the Seahawks and Rams carries additional significance for the Lions' future: Detroit is set to receive the Rams' first-round pick in the 2023 draft as part of 2021's Matthew Stafford trade. A loss by the Rams, who enter Week 18 at 5-11 and holding the No. 6 pick, could move the Lions' spot as high as fourth. (The Lions also have their own first-round pick, which is virtually locked into the middle of the round, barring a deep postseason run.)

The rest of the NFC

Six teams have already clinched their spots on the NFC side, though no seeds are set yet. The Philadelphia Eagles, at 13-3, are the No. 1 seed, but lost to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday to miss out on clinching the first-round bye.

The San Francisco 49ers beat the Las Vegas Raiders to improve to 12-4 and move ahead of the Vikings into the No. 2 spot, thanks to a better record in the NFC.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to clinch the NFC South title and a first-round home game as the No. 4, though they can only finish 9-8 at best.

The Dallas Cowboys are the top wild-card team, but would win the NFC East with a win over Washington and an Eagles loss to the Giants. Likewise, the Cowboys could climb into the No. 1 spot, and a bye, with an Eagles loss and a 49ers loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

The Giants clinched the No. 6 seed with their win over the Colts on Sunday. They're locked in there and will visit the No. 3 seed in the first round.

In the AFC, Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the L.A. Chargers have locked up spots. Jacksonville and Tennessee will play for the AFC South title, and New England, Miami and possibly Pittsburgh (depending on the results of Sunday night's game against Baltimore) are fighting for the No. 7 seed.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions NFL playoff scenarios: Here's what they need in Week 18