Why the Rams vs. Packers outcome is a win/win for Detroit Lions

On Monday night, the Green Bay Packers will try to keep their long-shot playoff odds alive by taking on the Los Angeles Rams. For most of the country, this game is yet another disappointing contest on a national stage, but for Detroit Lions fans, there are some pretty big stakes on the line.

Not only are the Packers a divisional foe who could see their playoff hopes essentially evaporate completely, but the Lions have stock in the Rams’ finish to the season, seeing as they have Los Angeles’ first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft from the Matthew Stafford trade last year.

Many fans have been asking all day about which team they should be rooting for on Monday night. Understandably, most have ethical issues rooting for the Packers, but we’ve also been conditioning ourselves this season to root for the Rams to continue to lose to maximize that draft pick value.

Well, I’m here to tell you that either outcome is a positive one for the Lions. Let’s break down the stakes of each outcome, and I’ll let you decide which team you want to root for.

If the Packers win…

Playoff implications:

If Green Bay wins, they move to 6-8 on the season, keeping their hopes of getting to 9-8 and slipping into a Wild Card spot alive. That would still require some help from other teams (including the Lions), but according to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Packers actually have a 68 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win out. So it may not be as much of a long shot as you’d think.

But how likely are they to win out? Here are their final three games:

  • at Dolphins (8-6)
  • vs. Vikings (11-3)
  • vs. Lions (7-7)

That’s not an easy schedule, but it’s doable.

Alone a Packers win doesn’t do much to the Lions’ playoff odds. It drops from 41 percent to 40 percent, for FiveThirtyEight. But it does give the Packers some confidence and some motivation to keep playing hard. And if they pull off a couple of upsets the following weeks, Week 18 in Lambeau against the Lions could be for the final Wild Card spot, and I imagine that’s not a situation the Lions want to be in, if it can be avoided.

Draft implications:

A Rams loss would be very valuable to the Lions, as it would drop Los Angeles to 4-10 on the season, climbing into the fourth overall pick with the opportunity to jump into the top two. Here’s what the draft order would look like:

Notes: Strength of schedule is based on Tankathon numbersand could shift based on the result of the game

  1. Texans: 1-12-1 (.504 strength of schedule)
  2. Bears: 3-11 (.570)
  3. Broncos (owned by Seahawks): 4-10 (.485)
  4. Rams (owned by Lions): 4-10 (.498)
  5. Cardinals: 4-10 (.521)

If the Rams win…

Playoff implications:

The Packers would fall to 5-9, erasing any realistic chance in the postseason. They would not be mathematically eliminated, but their playoff odds would drop to 0.5 percent for FiveThirtyEight. At that point, Green Bay may pack it in. We could see Jordan Love the rest of the way. It’s worth mentioning that the last time Green Bay gave up on the season, the Lions beat them 31-0 in the 2018 season finale. I would take a Week 18 gimme in this tight playoff race.

For FiveThirtyEight, a Packers loss would raise the Lions’ playoff odds from 41 to 45 percent—a somewhat significant improvement. That’s a five percent difference than if the Packers win.

In other words, the Lions could turn their entire focus to just the Commanders, Giants and Panthers for the Wild Card race. Whereas with a Packers win, Green Bay would still be lurking around.

Draft implications:

A Rams win would be hugely impactful in the draft order. By moving to 5-9, the Rams would nearly fall out of the top-10 entirely. Here’s what that would look like:

Notes: Strength of schedule is based on Tankathon numbersand could shift based on the result of the game

  1. Texans: 1-12-1 (.504 strength of schedule)
  2. Bears: 3-11 (.570)
  3. Broncos (owned by Seahawks): 4-10 (.485)
  4. Cardinals: 4-10 (.521)
  5. Colts: 4-9-1 (.508)
  6. Falcons: 5-9 (.449)
  7. Panthers: 5-9 (.454)
    t-8. Rams (owned by Lions): 5-9 (.498)
    t-8. Saints (owned by Eagles): 5-9 (.498)
  8. Packers: 5-9 (.553)

So the whole thing basically comes down to this: Would you take a five percent swing in the Lions playoff odds—and the peace of mind knowing the Packers were done—to drop 4-5 spots in the 2023 NFL Draft order? Or would you rather keep realistic dreams of a top-three pick alive knowing that the Packers—even with a win—only have an eight percent chance of making the playoffs and could see those hopes die next week against the Dolphins.

Either way, there are good outcomes on both sides.

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Who are you rooting for on Monday Night Football?

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