The Detroit Lions got manhandled by the Carolina Panthers on Christmas Eve, but the silver lining was that every other Saturday game fell in their favor in terms of keeping their playoff odds as high as possible. Essentially, they didn’t lose any ground in the NFC Playoff race for the final couple Wild Card spots, they simply lost one week, one opportunity to jump everyone.
Unfortunately, the Lions weren’t as lucky on Christmas Day. There were only three games played, but each outcome was exactly the opposite of what Lions fans should have been rooting for. Let’s break down the playoffs and 2023 NFL Draft order implications of each game’s results.
The Green Bay Packers kept their long-shot playoff odds alive with a big upset win over the Miami Dolphins. Had Green Bay lost, their playoff odds would’ve dropped to one percent. They wouldn’t have been mathematically eliminated, but they would’ve been very close.
Now here’s what the playoff race looks like for the Wild Card race (top three advance):
- Cowboys: 11-4
- Giants: 8-6-1
- Commanders: 7-7-1
- Seahawks: 7-8
- Lions: 7-8
- Packers: 7-8
The Lions remain above the Packers due to their head-to-head victory, and the Seahawks remain over the Lions for the same reason.
The Packers actually now have greater playoff odds (27%) than the Lions (25%) for one very simple reason: they will likely have the tiebreaker over the Seahawks, where the Lions don’t.
That said, the Lions’ path to the playoffs remains relatively unchanged despite this result. Here’s what needs to happen for Detroit:
- Lions win out AND
- Commanders lose or tie one game (vs. Browns, vs. Cowboys) AND
- Seahawks lose or tie one game (vs. Jets, vs. Rams)
Detroit could also replace one of those last two outcomes with two Giants losses (or one loss and one tie). They play vs. the Colts and on the road vs. the Eagles.
The biggest downside to the Packers’ win is that they are now much more likely to be playing for something in their Week 18 game against the Lions. That said, the Packers could be eliminated from playoff contention next week if:
- Packers lose to Vikings (Packers 3.5-point favorites) AND
- Lions beat Bears (Lions -5) OR
- Commanders beat Browns (Commanders -2)
In other words, if you don’t want a motivated Packers team in Week 18, you’re a big Vikings fan this week.
Rams beat Broncos
The Draft Pick Bowl turned out to be a massacre, as the Rams just absolutely destroyed a horrible Broncos team. This obviously had a pretty drastic impact on the draft order for the Lions, who own the Rams’ first-round pick. That pick started the day at No. 4, and it fell all the way down to No. 7 after the Rams’ win. Here’s a look at the updated draft order.
- Texans: 2-12-1 (.492 strength of schedule)
- Bears: 3-12 (.567)
- Broncos (owned by Seahawks): 4-11
- Cardinals: 4-11 (.520)
- colts; 4-9-1 (.508)
- Falcons: 5-10 (.463)
- Rams (owned by Lions): 5-10 (.504)
- Panthers: 6-9 (.457)
- Raiders: 6-9 (.460)
- Saints (owned by Eagles): 6-9 (.502)
- Browns (owned by Texans): 6-9 (.520)
Not only did the Rams’ pick drop three critical spots, but they could theoretically drop out of the top 10 with just one more win. They are no longer eligible to land the No. 1 overall pick, and even climbing back into the top three seems unlikely.
The good news remains that the Rams have two remaining games against teams that could very well need a win. Next week they play a Chargers team who could clinch a playoff spot with a win this Monday night against the Colts. The following week, they play a Seahawks team who—provided they don’t get eliminated from playoff contention this week—will be fighting for a Wild Card spot.
Buccaneers beat Cardinals
Lions fans had hope for a Cardinals victory when Arizona held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady buried those dreams with comeback and eventual overtime win.
Had Arizona won, the Rams’ pick would’ve jumped a spot to No. 6. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was still a frustrating ending to a frustrating day.