With the way the rest of the NFC is shaping up, the stretch is looking quite interesting. With the NFC South winner likely taking the No. 4 seed due to their poor records, it means seven teams (Cardinals, Packers, Lions, Eagles, Cowboys, Seahawks and 49ers) are competing for five spots effectively. At the moment, the Cardinals have a 2-game lead at 9-1 with 6 weeks remaining and are looking strong. Homefield advantage in the playoffs is theirs to lose I feel, even though they have to face the Seahawks twice and the 49ers once.
The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds therefore will go to the winners of the NFC North and the NFC East, which would be the Packers, Lions, Cowboys or Eagles. Obviously holding the No.2 seed at the end of the season would be massive for the Lions. Grabbing a bye and the team’s first ever NFC North title would be an incredible achievement.
But could an argument be made that it would be better for the Lions to get the No. 5 seed instead of the No. 3 seed? Whoever grabs the No. 5 seed would be playing a wildcard road game against an NFC South opponent. The Lions already have wins against the division leaders the Saints and the Falcons and I’d fancy the Lions in either contest. Grabbing the No. 3Jim Caldwell has the Lions aiming high seed would mean hosting the No. 6 seed which could be one of the Cowboys, the Eagles, the Seahawks or the 49ers. Eek!
Anyway, the real goal would be to beat the Packers in week 17 and wrap up the No. 2 seed and an NFC North title. Where are we on that one?
The Lions find themselves in a fierce 2-horse race for the NFC North title, tying the Packers at 7-3 but ahead because of the home victory in Week 3. Aaron Rodgers has got the Green Bay Packers rolling, riding high. Most NFL analysts rate the Packers higher than the Lions these days, and with the way our offense has been playing, I probably concur.
That said, we are currently ahead, and both of our remaining schedules look similar: both having to play the Patriots, four generally-winnable games and then facing each other in week 17. I do think we are genuine contenders in this race for the NFC North title.
There is a lot of football still to be played, and beating the Patriots or the Packers doesn’t count for diddly squat if the Lions don’t play consistently well and win the games they should, like beating the Vikings, Bears and Bucs at home.
But first, let’s see if we can beat these Patriots (and I’m sure everything will be different in a week or two anyway)…..