Detroit Lions rooting guide for Week 18 with playoffs, draft position to be decided

Detroit Free Press

The NFL got its wish in its first ever 17-game regular season, though it might have happened anyway.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders will play what essentially is a play-in game this Sunday in Vegas. Winner goes to the postseason as an AFC wild card, loser stays home.

Both teams could end up in the postseason, but it would take a miracle: The Chargers and Raiders would need to tie, and the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars would have to beat an Indianapolis Colts team that needs to win to make the playoffs.

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The Colts, Chargers, Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are still in the playoff hunt in the AFC, though the Steelers and Ravens play each other and need help to make the postseason.

In the NFC, the playoff picture is more clear: Six of the conference’s seven playoff spots have been decided. If the San Francisco 49ers beat Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, they get the seventh spot. If they don’t, the New Orleans Saints can get in with a win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Detroit Lions, of course, have long been eliminated from playoff contention, but there still is plenty at stake this week.

The Lions are locked into a top-two pick in April’s draft, but can move up to No. 1 if they lose to the Green Bay Packers and the Jaguars beat the Colts. The Lions will be facing a Packers team that already has the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs clinched, though Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur insisted Monday he will play some starters this week.

Also at stake: Positioning of the Lions’ second first-round pick, the one coming from the Rams.

If Stafford and the Rams beat the 49ers, they win the NFC West and will be the two seed in the NFC playoffs. If they lose and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams will fall to the five seed and go on the road for their first playoff game at the Dallas Cowboys.

Root appropriately.

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This week’s power rankings

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)

3. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

4. Tennessee Titans (11-5)

5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

6. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

7. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

8. New England Patriots (10-6)

9. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

10. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)

11. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

12. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)

13. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

14. Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

15. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)

18. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

19. Cleveland Browns (7-9)

20. New Orleans Saints (8-8)

21. Minnesota Vikings (7-9)

22. Denver Broncos (7-9)

23. Seattle Seahawks (6-10)

24. Chicago Bears (6-10)

25. Washington Football Team (6-10)

26. Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

27. Carolina Panthers (5-11)

28. New York Jets (4-12)

29. New York Giants (4-12)

30. Houston Texans (4-12)

31. Detroit Lions (2-13-1)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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