Now that Ndamukong Suh has been suspended for two games (I hope he doesn’t appeal as he is lucky to only get two games and he 100% earned this suspension), lets take a look at the next two opponents: This Sunday night at New Orleans and the following Sunday at home versus the Vikings.
I believe the Lions lose to New Orleans and beat Minnesota with or without Suh, which leaves us at 8-5 with three games left and hopefully a motivated, rejuvenated, and emotionally healthier Suh returning for our final stretch of games against division leader Oakland, the always dangerous but free-falling San Diego Chargers, and then our finale against the Packers-who may be going for history and an undefeated season.
It is very reasonable to believe we lose all three of these games as Oakland is a dangerous team and will present problems for us. The Chargers will be playing to save their season and their Coach’s job, plus they have Philip Rivers who is always a threat to beat you with his arm. Green Bay is Green Bay, in addition it’s in Green Bay and we don’t play well in the cold.
This leaves the Lions 9-7 if they can beat Minnesota, and Oakland or San Diego and 8-8 if we only beat Minnesota. Obviously a loss to Minnesota could be devastating as all of my assumptions are based on us beating them. I am not sure the Lions make the playoffs at 9-7.
We don’t even have the tiebreaker advantage against two of the teams chasing us for a playoff spot, the Bears and the Falcons. However, With five games left,things can change on with the tiebreakers.
Since the Lions and Bears split their season series, the first tiebreaker is division record (both are 2-2 with games remaining against the Minnesota Vikings and Packers) and the second is record in common games (the Bears are 4-1, the Lions 3-2, with Detroit’s loss to Atlanta being the difference). The Lions can make up ground with wins over the Saints this weekend or Oakland Raiders next month, two teams Chicago has lost to.
Taking a closer look at the other teams chasing us it’s reasonable to assume the following:
In order to make the playoffs, the following applies: -The four division winners get automatic berths.
That leaves the rest of the NFC chasing the final spots as a wild card since only six teams in each division make the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers are locks to win their divisions. The New Orleans Saints (8-3) and Atlanta Falcons (7-4) will battle to the final game of the season to determine the winner of that division, with Atlanta having an easier remaining schedule. Regardless, I expect both of these teams to make the playoffs-one as a division winner and the other as a wild card.
In the NFC East, The Cowboys (7-4) and The Giants (6-5) are fighting for this division. The Cowboys have an easy remaining schedule and should win the division.
However, the Giants are famous for rising from the dead and doing the improbable. Plus, they have Eli Manning-the same quarterback who took them to a Super Bowl victory. I do not expect the Giants to go quietly.
That leaves us, the Bears and the Giants all fighting for one final playoff slot.
The Giants remaining schedule is as follows:
- Green Bay at home
- at Dallas
- Washington at home,
- at the NY Jets (which is actually a home game since they play in the same stadium)
- Dallas at home.
If we assume losses to Green Bay and Dallas at least once out of their two remaining games, this leaves New York 9-7-just like us. I can see New York winning four of these games, which puts them at 10-6 and would most likely get them the final playoff spot.
The Bears have a tough road due to the injury to Jay Cutler. Their remaining schedule is not very difficult though:
- home vs the Chiefs (very winnable)
- at Denver (winnable-they can stop Tebow)
- home vs Seattle (winnable)
- at Green Bay
- at Minnesota (winnable).
I can also see the Bears finishing 10-6 or 9-7 based on the weak final schedule and the strength of their running game and defense.
Where does this leave Detroit? On the outside looking in. They have a very difficult remaining schedule, the Suh debacle, Stafford’s and the team’s inconsistency and immaturity, and no tiebreaker advantages currently.
Unfortunately, I am not optimistic. Regardless, as the old cliché goes, this is why they play the games. Go Lions and let’s watch to see how the rest of the season unfolds.
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