The Detroit Lions had a good Sunday. A really, really good Sunday.
Before Sunday, it looked like there were three teams fighting for two NFC wild-card spots, with the Lions still somewhat alive. The Washington Commanders had a bye. The New York Giants were blown out 48-22 by the Philadelphia Eagles in the early games, continuing their slide in the second half of the season. Then the Seattle Seahawks lost 30-24 to the Carolina Panthers, continuing their slide in the second half of the season.
Combine those results with the Lions’ win over the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and Detroit is suddenly alive and right back in the playoff race. The Lions started 1-6 and have gone on a hot streak since, winning five of six. Even with the improved play the Lions still needed help to get a playoff spot.
A lot of help came on Sunday.
Lions climbing back in race
One wild-card spot in the NFC will go to the second-place team in the NFC East, presumably the Dallas Cowboys. The other two are up for grabs, and the Lions gained on everyone in the race on Sunday. Here are the updated standings:
The Lions aren’t in great shape, but they’re in a better place than any team that started the season 1-6 deserves to be in. The Lions’ remaining schedule is at Jets, at Panthers, vs. Bears, at Packers. If the Lions can beat a good Jets team on the road, it’s possible they can win out.
At the very least, their regular-season finale against the Packers should be interesting, and that seemed like a long shot a few weeks ago.
Seahawks in a slump
The Seahawks’ stumble is a big key for the Lions.
Seattle was 6-3 in early November. Then came a trip to Germany to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Seahawks haven’t been right since. Seattle lost to the Buccaneers, had a bye, lost to the Las Vegas Raiders in overtime at home, were fortunate to beat a battered Los Angeles Rams team last week and then looked bad against the Panthers.
Carolina burst out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Seahawks rallied and cut the Panthers’ lead to 20-17, but with 6:57 left rookie Panthers back Raheem Blackshear scored on an 8-yard touchdown run and Carolina had a double-digit lead again. Losing by double digits to the Panthers at home isn’t a good look for any playoff hopeful.
Detroit has a long way to go. The Seahawks beat the Lions 48-45 on Oct. 2, so they have the head-to-head tiebreaker if it comes to that. Given how the Seahawks’ season has turned the past few weeks, they might need it.
The Lions are going to need plenty of help the rest of the season to sneak into the playoffs. Sunday was a good start.