How the Detroit Lions can still make the playoffs - and miss them - in week 17

When the Detroit Lions were sitting at 9-4 a few weeks ago, they were leading the NFC North and had the second-best record in the league. Things have changed, dramatically.

The Lions opened the season with a 39-35 shootout win over the Indianapolis Colts and promptly lost three straight. Sitting at 1-3, many fans were ready to call it a season already. Then the Lions got hot.

Since starting 1-3, they won 8 of their next 9 games, giving them that 9-4 record. After beating the Bears, they held on to first place in the NFC North with just three weeks left.

Then the Lions lost the next two game to two playoff teams: The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Now, it all comes down to Sunday night.

The Lions host the Packers at Ford Field with the division and their playoff hopes on the line. Here's how they can still make it.

To assure they make the playoffs, before the coin is even flipped at midfield, the Lions need Washington to lose to New York. If that happens, both Detroit and Green Bay will be in the playoffs with the winner claiming the NFC North title and the loser going to the wildcard.

Why it may not happen: Washington is playing the Giants who are already in the playoffs as the other wildcard team. They can't win the division and may not be running out their best teams and schemes so they can save them for the playoffs.

If Washington wins, Sunday night's game is a winner-take-all fight for the NFC North title. The winner clinches the playoffs and the loser goes home until next fall.

The winner of the game could still get homefield advantage and a first-round bye in the playoffs. For that to happen, the Seattle Seahawks would have to lose to the San Francisco 49ers AND the Atlanta Falcons would have to lose to New Orleans Saints. Neither of those is exactly likely - but those teams could be playing spoiler.

Either way, Sunday's game is going to be huge and have ramifications for teams across the country. Of course, we know what happened the last time Green Bay played Detroit at Ford Field: The Lions blew a 20 point lead and it came to a hearbreaking end with the Rodgers-to-Rodgers 61-yard Hail Mary after a very questionable facemask call extended the game by one play.

Don't worry, we won't play the video here - we're bound to see it enough times this weekend.

On Sunday, FOX 2 is your home for all things Lions. Here's our schedule Sunday leading up to and after the game:

8:00 - 9:00 am - Dan Miller and Ryan Ermanni take over the FOX 2 News Weekend morning show with a special hour of analysis, previews, and interviews.
10:00 - 11:00 am - Lions GameDay Live with Dan Miller, Jamie Samuelson, Wojo, and more as we get you ready for the game.
11:30 - 12:30 am - After the game, switch back to FOX 2 for a specaial Sportsworks featuring Lions GameNight. We'll have exclusive from the locker room, the field, and more, whether the Lions win or lose.

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