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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Breaking down the Detroit Lions playoff chances and why they WILL get in

Ok, I know this is a BOLD prediction but I believe the Detroit Lions will somehow, someway squeeze their way into the NFL Playoffs.

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With their win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Lions moved to 5-8 and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

In fact, following the Minnesota Vikings loss the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, those hopes actually improved as the Lions playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight, went from 1% to 3%!

You are probably thinking one of two things right now. 1) This guy is a complete clown if he believes the Lions are going to make the playoffs, I am not reading any more of his BS or 2) I may as well see what this clown has to say since he took the time to write it out.

Well, my hope is that you are still reading because I am about to tell you exactly why I believe the Lions WILL make the NFL Playoffs.

Lions chances…in a vacuum

Believe it or not, the Lions could find themselves in the playoffs even if they lose one of their remaining three games but the chances of that are VERY SLIM. So, my focus in this piece will be predicated on them winning out and letting the chips fall where they may.

First, let’s look at how the Lions playoff chances increase (in a vacuum) with them winning each of their remaining three games.

*Note: This does not take into account what other teams in the league do, we will look at that later. Also, I am not going to get into tie games because all of our heads would explode.

Week 15 @Buffalo Bills

If the Lions win: Playoff chances increase to 7%

If the Lons lose: Playoff chances decrease to < 1%

Week 16 vs. Minnesota Vikings

If the Lions win Week 15 and win Week 16: Playoff chances increase to 13%

If the Lions win Week 15 and lose Week 16: Playoff chances decrease to 0%

If the Lions lose Week 15 and win Week 16: Playoff chances decrease to < 1%

Week 17 @Green Bay Packers

If the Lions win Week 15, 16, and 17: Playoff chances increase to 28%

If the Lions win Week 15, lose Week 16, and win Week 17: Playoff chances decrease to 0%

If the Lions win Week 15, win Week 16, and lose Week 17: Playoff chances decrease to <1%

If the Lions lose Week 15, win Week 16, and win Week 17: Playoff chances decrease to <1%

*If they lose any two games, they are out.

BOTTOM LINE: If the Lions really want to have any shot at making the NFL Playoffs, they have to win out. By doing so, they have a 28% chance of getting in.

So, what else needs to fall the Lions’ way?

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As we have established, if the Lions find a way to win each of their remaining three games, they will give themselves a 28% chance of getting into the playoffs.

So, since they do not control their own destiny, what else needs to go the Lions’ way for them to be playing beyond Week 17?

Well, after playing around with the FiveThiryEight Playoff Predictor, I came up with the following scenario in which the Lions WILL make the 2018 NFL Playoffs.

As you can see below, I have the Seahawks finishing at 10-6 and locking up the first wild-card spot. This means the Lions will really only (ha, ha, he said “only”) have to worry about the Eagles, Vikings, Panthers, Redskins, and Packers.

Let’s take a look at why I think each of those teams listed above will be eliminated before all is said and done.


I have the Vikings beating the Dolphins in Week 15 but then losing at Detroit and then at home against the Bears. In that scenario, the Vikings would finish 7-8-1, just a half game behind the Lions. The real kicker here is that the Vikings will be playing for a playoff spot while the Bears could rest some of their starters as a first-round bye will be out of their reach at that point. We have to count on the Bears doing us a favor!


I have these two grouped together because Week 17 could be huge if things shake out as I envision. I have the Eagles losing to the Rams in Week 15 and then beating Houston in Week 16. As far as the Redskins go, I have them winning at Jacksonville (no guarantee here) and losing at Tennessee to put them at 7-8 heading into their Week 17 game with the Eagles. If my scenario seen below plays out, a Washington win would put them into the playoffs over the Lions while a loss would give Detroit the nod. Let’s hope the Redskins drop both road games in Week 15 and Week 16 so we don’t have to worry about them.


To be completely honest, I am not at all worried about the Panthers, even though they are currently ahead of the Lions in the standings. You see, in their final three games of the season, the Panthers will have the task of playing the New Orleans Saints twice! I believe the Saints will have to win both of those games to lock up the No. 1 seed and they will do just that, eliminating Carolina along the way.



Like the Lions, the Green Bay Packers still have a breath of hope when it comes to making the playoffs. That being said, if they lose at Chicago in Week 15, which they will, they are all but finished. Because of that, the Packers Week 17 game against the Lions would be meaningless to them and would mean everything to Detroit. Edge: Lions (that was hard to type)


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Prior to the start of the season, not many would believe the Lions could win vs. Minnesota and at Green Bay to close out the season. In fact, many (including myself) assumed both of those teams would be fighting for the NFC North crown.

But as we know, that is not the case as both the Vikings (6-6-1) and Packers (5-7-1) have struggled mightily and neither team looks very good at all at this point.

Now, chances are the Lions will be underdogs in both of those games (hell, they are a 2.5 point underdog against the Bills this week) but to say they have no chance of beating the Vikings at home and the Packers on the road would be a lie. All three teams are bad and anything can happen.

The Lions absolutely will go into Buffalo and beat the Bills this week to move to 6-8 on the season and you can bet the coaches and players will be fired up to play a very beatable Vikings team in the final game at Ford Field this year.

If and when the Lions beat the Bills and the Vikings, they will be sitting at 7-8 with a matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field staring them straight in the face. The game will mean nothing to the Packers but it will mean everything to the Detroit Lions as they will be playing for a spot in the NFL Playoffs. When this scenario plays out, the Lions will be fired up to finish the job and they will do just that.

Ladies and gentlemen, we always have hope!



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Don Drysdale
I am a fan of all Detroit sports and LOVE to write about them!

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