The Detroit Lions are one win away from their first playoff berth in 12 years, thanks to Sunday’s dramatic come-from-behind, 28-27 win in Oakland. If Detroit beats San Diego at Ford Field next week or upsets the Packers in Green Bay in Week 17, it would clinch a wild-card spot.
The Lions still could reach the postseason with an 0-2 finish, too, if the Bears, Seahawks and Cardinals all suffer losses sometime in Week 16 or 17. Chicago plays at Green Bay next week, Seattle at San Francisco, then the Seahawks and Cardinals meet in Arizona in the regular season’s final week.
We’ll dive deeper into some of the other playoff scenarios — including how Detroit can get up to the No. 5 seed — later this week. For now, here’s a look at how the NFC shapes up through Sunday’s games (Updated following San Diego’s win over Baltimore):
No. 1 Green Bay (13-1), No. 2 New Orleans (11-3), No. 3 San Francisco (10-3), No. 4 Dallas (8-6), No. 5 Atlanta (9-5), No. 6 Detroit (9-5)
The Seahawks, Bears, Giants and Cowboys all sit tied at 7-7, two games back in the wild-card race. Green Bay and San Francisco have clinched their divisions, while New Orleans has secured a spot and can clinch with a win or Atlanta loss over the final two weeks. The Packers need just a win or 49ers loss to wrap up home-field advantage.
Here’s the AFC picture, pending Monday’s Pittsburgh-San Francisco showdown:
No. 1 New England (11-3), No. 2 Pittsburgh (10-3), No. 3 Houston (10-4), No. 4 Denver (8-6), No. 5 Baltimore (10-4), No. 6 New York Jets (8-6)
The Lions’ win kept Denver on top of the AFC West, meaning the Broncos still control their playoff destiny. The Jets have the same luxury, despite being blown out at Philadelphia.
The Patriots clinched the AFC East crown on the strength of Sunday’s win in Denver, while Houston had the AFC South wrapped up last week.
San Diego’s Sunday night win gave Pittsburgh control of its own destiny in the AFC — if the Steelers win out, starting Monday night in San Francisco, they would take the conference’s top spot for the playoffs. The Chargers also kept their playoffs hopes alive. They have a slim chance to steal the AFC West but remained very much in the wild-card hunt.