If the Detroit Lions want to find their way into the NFL Playoffs, a couple of things have to happen. First, they must win their final two games of the season to finish 10-6. Second, they will need some help from the Atlanta Falcons.
You see, if the Lions win out (at Cincinnati, vs. Green Bay) and the Falcons lose their final two games of the season (at New Orleans, vs. Carolina), Detroit would get into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Though this is not the only scenario for the Lions to get into the playoffs, it is certainly the most logical and straightforward at this point.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Lions may only have a 14% chance of getting into the playoffs, but they may have just caught a break.
In case you missed it (yeah right), Aaron Rodgers returned to the Packers starting lineup on Sunday after missing extended time with a broken collarbone. Unfortunately, for the Lions, Rodgers was rusty and the Packers ended up losing to the Carolina Panthers. If Green Bay would have defeated Carolina, Detroit's chances of making the playoffs would have been even higher.
As soon as news broke that Rodgers was returning sooner than expected, Lions fans immediately freaked out, assuming he would once again lead the Packers to a Week 17 win over Detroit, ruining their season.
But following the Falcons win over the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, the Packers have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
Now that Green Bay has nothing left to play for, Rodgers could end up sitting out the remainder of the season, including the Week 17 matchup at Ford Field against the Lions.
On Monday, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talked about just that.
“Aaron Rodgers is sore. I mean, rightfully so,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “He was hit too many times. He took too many big hits. So, we're working through that. We'll see what tomorrow brings.”
Yes, the Lions MUST win their final two games of the season. Yes, the Lions will need help from the Atlanta Falcons, specifically needing them to lose their final two games.
But when Week 17 rolls around, the Lions could end up catching a HUGE break if Aaron Rodgers is indeed shut down for the Packers final two games.