Lions’ nightmare NFL playoff seeding, matchups


Now that the Detroit Lions have officially locked up their division and a playoff berth, the question is who the Lions will host in their home playoff game in 30 years. At this point of the season, there are certainly teams who would give the Lions more favorable matchups than others as they try to win their first playoff game in over 30 years.

Of course the playoffs would be easier for the Lions if they got the No. 1 seed. Right now the Lions hold the No. 2 seed, but could move up to the No. 1 seed. On the contrary, the worst possibility would be the Lions dropping to the No. 3 seed. It’s no longer possible for the Lions to fall to the No. 4 seed, but the No. 3 seed right now would give them the worst possible wildcard matchup.

If the season ended today, the third seed will face the sixth seed, which is currently the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams are a team few others want to see in the playoffs right now. They have won a Super Bowl recently, have one of the best coaches in Sean McVay and the NFC’s best quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Stafford and the Rams are hot right now, and could pose legitimate problems for the Lions defense. On top of all that, Stafford played for the Lions previously while Jared Goff was on the Rams. McVay could have an advantage from having coached Goff for so long, while the game will likely have extra meaning for Stafford against his former team.

If the Lions end up with the No. 2 seed, their current matchup would be against the Seattle Seahawks. Though Seattle beat Detroit 37-31 back in Week 2, that opponent wouldn’t be as intimidating as the Rams. For one, the game was close and the Seahawks won in overtime. The Lions also committed three turnovers and still stayed in the game until the end. If the Lions and Seahawks do play, Detroit would still have a great shot at winning. They would also face a Seahawks offense that hasn’t nearly that good in weeks.

In the scenario that the Seahawks lose their current wildcard spot, the Lions would have potential matchups versus the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons or Chicago Bears. Out of these teams, the Lions would least likely want to face the Bears and Packers, and would have the best matchups against the Vikings and Saints.

After the wildcard round — assuming Detroit advances — they have potential matchups versus the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From these options, the 49ers would be the Lions’ worst matchup. The 49ers have pummeled almost every NFC opponent they’ve played, and it’s hard to see the Lions defense stopping the 49ers offense enough to get the win. The Buccaneers on paper seem like the easiest matchup since Detroit beat them 20-6 earlier this year, but Tampa Bay looks like a different team with a lot more momentum as of late. The Eagles and Cowboys have been inconsistent as of late, so it’s hard to tell who would be the favorite.

The most important thing for the Lions will be to get at least the No. 2 seed, which would mean they would host almost every game in the playoffs. Both the Eagles and Cowboys play better at home, so the Lions could give themselves at better chance at winning if they force other teams to play on the road. The Lions next couple games against the Cowboys and Vikings will play a big role in determining the Lions’ seeding, and determine if Detroit is ready for the playoff limelight.

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