Detroit Lions fans 2022 NFL playoff rooting guide Week 18
The final week of the regular season carries heavy playoff implications across the league. Several teams are competing to make the playoffs, while the NFC and AFC both have multiple teams fighting for each conference’s only available playoff spot.
In the NFC, either the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers or Detroit Lions will be the last team on the field. Meanwhile, the AFC will see either the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers move up to the bottom spot.
The Lions are very much in playoff contention. In order for Dan Campbell’s team to make the playoffs, two things must happen – the Lions must take care of business against the Packers and the Seahawks must lose to the Los Angeles Rams.
Here’s a comprehensive rooting guide for the Week 18 games that affect the Lions, whether it’s their playoff chances or their 2023 NFL Draft stock.
Los Angeles Rams (5-11) at Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
(Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX)
Ironically, the team that could improve Detroit’s draft position the most is the same team that could push it into the playoffs.
The Rams, who have struggled all season, could see the first-round pick they traded to the Lions become a top-five pick to lose. However, if they beat Seattle, it will make the Lions’ Sunday matchup with the Packers a real win-win situation.
Currently, the Rams’ first round pick is at No. 6 overall. If the Rams lose, their pick won’t drop below where it currently is.
It’s interesting to note that the Seahawks will, in fact, concede to Detroit on Sunday night. If the Packers win, they will make the playoffs regardless of the outcome of Seattle’s game against the Rams (due to a tiebreaker).
Lions fans who want to see their team in the postseason will have to root hard for Baker Mayfield and company to pull off an upset over Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.
Minnesota Vikings (12-4) at Chicago Bears (2-14)
(Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)
Assuming the Lions can scratch the playoff surface, they will do so as the No. 1 seed. 7. As a result, they will have a first round matchup against the no. 2. Given their history this season, Detroit will be licking its chops for a third chance at the Vikings.
The Lions lost the first game between the two teams this season in heartbreaking fashion, but won the second comfortably at home. The only way the two teams will meet again is if the Lions find their way, the Vikings win and the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals (4-12) at San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
(Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX)
A 49th loss, coupled with a Vikings win, would knock them both out of their current playoff money. It would drop San Francisco to No. 3 and a game with the New York Giants, while the Vikings would bump into the second seed to take on whoever passes between Seattle, Detroit and Green Bay.
Given the Cardinals’ struggles over the past two months, that will be a tall order. Former Lions quarterback David Blough started last week for the Cardinals, and will do so again against the 49ers.
Bough will have a tough task ahead of him, as the 49ers defense is among the best in the league. That defense is a major reason why the Lions, if they get in, would benefit from avoiding a first-round matchup with the 49ers.
Dallas Cowboys (12-4) at Washington Commanders (7-8-1)
New York Giants (9-6-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
(Both games – Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)
Sticking to hypothetical playoff scenarios, the Lions played the Eagles very closely in Week 1, but suffered a 24-6 loss to Dallas in Week 7. For that reason, they would prefer to see Philadelphia in the postseason sooner rather than later.
A Dallas win, coupled with a Philadelphia loss, would give the Cowboys the NFC East title. In that same scenario, a win by San Francisco would move the 49ers into first place and a first-round bye, meaning Dallas would play the No. 1 seed. 7 during the opening weekend of the postseason.
The trip to Jerry World would only bring back bad memories for Detroit fans who watched the team suffer a devastating loss to Dallas in the 2014 playoffs. Additionally, the Cowboys have been phenomenal as of late and it would be a tough draw.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have been hit and lost two of three entering this weekend. They have looked more vulnerable recently and would be a better draw.
David Reginek, USA TODAY Sports
Implications of the draft order
Houston Texans (2-13-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-11-1)
(Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
The Texans currently hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 Draft and would secure it with a loss. However, the Rams’ first-round pick could drop below the Colts’ pick if Houston wins.
Neither team has been good down the stretch of the game, with Indianapolis scrambling through the buzzer-beaters and the Texans coming up short in close games. Houston has little motivation to win, given the fact that it holds the top pick in the draft. But it could help Detroit move up a spot if it can find a way to win.
A loss by the Rams and a win by the Colts would move the Lions to the No. 5 in the draft rankings, as the Rams would be lower based on Indianapolis’ early season draw.
Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-10)
(Saturday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN/ABC)
The Raiders are one of three 6-10 teams, along with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers travel to New Orleans (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX), while the Falcons host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX).
Any of the three 6-10 teams winning out would eliminate the possibility of them being picked higher than the Rams. Also, the Rams’ strength of schedule would keep their pick closer to the top than any of these teams finishing with an identical record to Los Angeles.
Lions fans should be hoping for upsets here.
The reason why: The Rams winning a sixth game to help Detroit’s playoff chances would do nothing to move their draft pick in a positive direction for the Lions.