This is a weekly look at the NFC playoff picture as it relates to the Detroit Lions.
Detroit heads to Chicago this weekend, eight weeks, eight games to go and right in the middle of the NFC North and, if necessary, the wild-card race.
Yet as of today -- and really, as of this coming Sunday -- Detroit would not be in the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with Carolina, a team the Lions won’t face this year.
But fortunately for Detroit, there is still half a season to play.
Here’s a quick guide to where Detroit’s playoff picture stands right now.
Remaining opponents' record: 21-42
Next game: Sunday at Chicago
Next three games: at Chicago, at Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa Bay
NFC North Race:
Remaining opponents' record: 29-43
Next game: Tonight vs. Chicago
Next three games: vs. Chicago, vs. Philadelphia, at New York Giants
Lions interests: Tonight against Chicago, it is a toss-up. If the Packers beat the Bears, it places the Lions firmly in second place in the division, a game behind Green Bay and a game up on Chicago.
Remaining opponents' record: 34-39
Next game: Tonight at Green Bay
Next three games: at Green Bay, vs. Detroit, vs. Baltimore
Lions interests: Like mentioned with Green Bay, tonight is a toss-up for Detroit in terms of who winning would help more, especially with Detroit heading to Chicago next week. A Chicago win would create a three-way tie at the top of the division. A Bears loss -- especially if Josh McCown does not play well -- could leave the Bears reeling with the Lions coming to town.
Remaining opponents' record 31-35
Next game: Sunday vs. Carolina
Next three games: vs. Carolina, at New Orleans, at Washington
Lions interests: In reality, either Seattle or San Francisco will take one of the two wild-card slots and right now, the Seahawks have a one-game edge over the 49ers and the tiebreaker. They are two of the better teams in the NFC and would probably be a favorite over whoever is in the No. 4 slot in the NFC, despite having to be on the road. What the Lions would need to want to push for here is the Niners to lose just enough for them to drop to the No. 6 seed. Detroit, however, could really use a San Francisco win Sunday.
Remaining opponents' record: 36-30
Next game: Sunday at San Francisco
Next three games: at San Francisco, vs. New England, at Miami
Lions interests: Detroit doesn’t play Carolina, but the Cam Newton-led squad is worth paying attention to. Right now, the Panthers hold a tiebreaker advantage over Detroit, but have a daunting schedule down the stretch. Detroit really wants the 49ers and Patriots to knock off the Panthers the next two weeks. Carolina still has two games against New Orleans on its schedule as well.
Remaining opponents' record: 33-34
Next game: Sunday vs. Houston
Next three games: vs. Houston, at Jacksonville, vs. Indianapolis
Lions interests: Detroit needs Arizona to fall back in this race quickly. The Cardinals, with that 25-21 win over the Lions in Week 2, have the tiebreaker over Detroit. The good news for the Lions is this -- the Cardinals have three of the NFL’s top teams remaining: Indianapolis and then at Seattle and at home against San Francisco the last two weeks of the season.
Remaining opponents' record: 27-28
Next game: Sunday at Green Bay
Next three games: at Green Bay, vs. Washington, vs. Arizona
Lions interests: Detroit will have some control here as the Lions travel to Philadelphia on Dec. 8. By then, though, Philadelphia could be in a much different position. The Eagles have a fairly favorable schedule the rest of the way -- and still have an off week waiting for them -- and seem to have found a quarterback in Nick Foles. Depending what happens tonight against Chicago, the game against Green Bay on Sunday could be an interesting rooting case for Detroit.