This is a weekly look at the NFC playoff picture as it relates to the Detroit Lions.
For the first time since November, the Detroit Lions will enter a week of the season without control of their own fate for a playoff spot. The bad part for them, of course, is that there are only two weeks left in the season.
The Lions’ 18-16 loss to Baltimore on Monday night, combined with wins by Chicago and Green Bay on Sunday, knocked Detroit to third place in the NFC North and the will need help category for any shot of the playoffs.
One thing is clear for Detroit: The Lions have to beat both the New York Giants and Minnesota to have any chance at the playoffs. Even if the Lions win both of those games, it might not end up being enough.
The path to the playoffs is simple to explain for Detroit. Win both games and have both the Packers and the Bears lose at least one game. If somehow Chicago and Green Bay both lose in Week 16 and the Lions win, they are once again in a win-and-in scenario. If both Chicago and Green Bay win on Sunday, the Lions are eliminated no matter what happens.
Remaining opponents record: 9-18-1
Games left: vs. New York Giants, at Minnesota
Remaining opponents record: 15-12-1
Games left: at Philadelphia, vs. Green Bay.
Lions interests: The Lions need the Bears to lose at least one of their last two games -- and almost definitely need Chicago to drop its game at Philadelphia on Sunday. The best case scenario here would be for the Bears to lose to the Eagles and then to beat Green Bay in the final week of the season because that would leave Chicago at 9-7. If that happens and the Lions win out, then the Lions would be in the playoffs.
Remaining opponents record: 14-14
Remaining games: vs. Pittsburgh, at Chicago
Lions interests: Like the Bears, the Lions need the Packers to drop at least one of their last two games to have a shot at the playoffs. That Green Bay in in this position -- win out and make the playoffs -- is somewhat amazing considering the Packers have been without Aaron Rodgers for the entirety of this run. But the best news for Detroit here would be, like Chicago, to see the Packers lose to Pittsburgh on Sunday. This would set up an elimination game in Week 17 against the Bears.