A surprise late-season surge has put the Detroit Lions in good position to chase a playoff birth even as they rebuild during the 2022 season. But how realistic is that outcome, actually?
Many still see the Lions as a long shot analytically, but in terms of momentum, there may be no team hotter poised to make a run than Detroit. Bleacher Report clearly sees this as the Lions push toward another vital week on the field.
Writer Alex Kay took a look at some of the unlikeliest playoff teams that could crack the postseason, and the Lions were the second team the piece mentioned, even at 5-7. As he pointed out, while the team has 8% odds of actually making the playoffs, their hot streak combined with schedule makes them an intriguing foe.
“Detroit has picked up wins in four of the last five games and hung tough with the elite Buffalo Bills in its lone loss during that span. The club smashed the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 in Week 13 and has a relatively easy five-game stretch coming up to close out the year,” Kay wrote.
Specifically, this week’s game offers the team a chance to take a major step forward and beat the best remaining team on their schedule record-wise.
“If the Lions can upset the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, they’ll set themselves up nicely to make the playoffs with the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers serving as their only remaining foes,” Kay said in the piece.
This game is certainly the biggest one for Detroit to this point in 2022, and the reason behind that more than just the usual idiom that it’s the next one. If the Lions could keep their momentum going against a team most figure will beat them, it could be like stealing in a very close race to the postseason.
Detroit has a chance to make their playoff odds take a nice leap with a victory in this game.
Dan Orlovsky Revealed Lions’ Path to Playoffs
This take is one that many folks would agree with. According to ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky, the biggest games the Lions will face will come in the next two weeks, and if they can win them, it will be reason to celebrate.
Detroit faces off against Minnesota and the New York Jets. Win both and Orlovsky predicts the Lions will be playoff bound.
“Man the next 2 weeks for Lions are absolutely massive. Minn (and) At Jets. Win both and you’re in the playoffs,” Orlovsky tweeted.
It’s very clear that the next two games offer Detroit a big opportunity against teams that have winning records and are near the top of their divisions. If Detroit could score a pair of unlikely wins, it could boost them through the much softer end to their schedule.
Where Detroit Stands in Playoff Race
After the blowout win in Week 13, the Lions are alive in the NFC playoff race. Detroit has a tight margin for error with seven losses already, but their schedule will likely make them a factor down the stretch.
The team’s schedule feels favorable with home games on the horizon to go with some easier road games on paper. In Week 14, the Lions play the Vikings at home, then the Jets on the road, the Panthers at home and the Bears at home. They will finish by visiting Green Bay to end the year. That’s a very ripe stretch for Detroit considering the number of teams under .500 and the way the Ford Field crowd may play a factor.
As of now, the Lions are two games behind Seattle, and will be hoping for them to drop a few games late-season to help them out, while hoping the NFC East eats its own in the days ahead.
Should Detroit bring the level of effort they have over the last five weeks, they are going to remain in the hunt all the way down the stretch of the season. They may even surprise and pull out some clutch wins as well.
Some already see them as a potential surprise in the making for the postseason in the days ahead if they can get by a major roadblock.