Detroit — For at least a few more weeks, December football matters in Detroit.
The Lions (6-7) dumped the Minnesota Vikings, 34-23, at Ford Field Sunday to improve their playoff standing, while the Seattle Seahawks (7-6) and New York Giants (7-5-1) both hurt their positioning with losses.
Seattle lost at home to Carolina, 30-24, and the Giants lost at home to Philadelphia, 48-22.
Detroit remains the NFC’s ninth seed following Sunday’s slate, but is starting to see a clear road to the No. 7 seed — playoffs — with four games remaining in the schedule. The Lions will go to the New York Jets (7-6) and then Carolina (5-8), return home against the Bears (3-10) before the season finale against the Packers (5-8) at Lambeau Field.
The Giants and Washington Commanders (7-5-1) — which make up the final two NFC teams currently in a playoff position — tied last week, complicating the playoff picture. Detroit holds a tiebreaker over both, but because each team has a tie on its record, the Lions will need to finish with more wins than both teams to clear them in the standings.
The Lions are also technically still only one game behind Seattle, but would need to finish a game above them to make the playoffs, because the Seahawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, thanks to a 48-45 win at Detroit in Week 4.
FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Lions a 23% chance to make playoffs, the Giants 44%, the Seahawks 55% and the Commanders 73%.
Further clarity on who has the upper hand between the Giants and Commanders will come next week, as the two teams square off for the second time in three weeks. But regardless, the Lions certainly have a little bit of luck on their side, with the Giants, Seahawks and Seahawks all going through a playoff-team-laden road to close the year.
After playing at Washington on Sunday Night Football next week, the Giants then play at Minnesota (10-3), home against Indianapolis (4-8-1), and then finish their season at Philadelphia (12-1).
The Commanders close their season after the Giants game by traveling to San Francisco (9-4) before getting Cleveland (5-8) and Dallas (10-3) at home.
Seattle plays San Francisco at home on Thursday next week before getting the Kansas City Chiefs (10-3), Jets and Los Angeles Rams (4-9) in three straight home games.