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Charting the NFC Playoff Race: Detroit Lions Looking Good After Wild Thanksgiving Weekend

December 2nd, 2013 at 11:52 AM
By Max DeMara

The Detroit Lions won the game they had to against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. Then, by Sunday afternoon, their playoff odds took another massive step forward thanks to an upset courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings.

Though they shared identical records, the Chicago Bears were one game behind the Lions in the standings by virtue of the Lions' 2-0 record against the Bears during the 2013 season. When Chicago collapsed late and missed a game winning field goal in overtime, the Lions suddenly had a two game lead. What did the other NFC competition do over the weekend? Here's a look.

Minnesota (3-8-1) defeats Chicago (6-6) 23-20. The biggest game of Sunday went Detroit's way, as the Bears fell apart down the stretch and allowed the Vikings to score a shocking home victory. Thanks to that, Detroit's NFC North lead is essentially two full games over Chicago. Quietly, however, this game also served as a reminder that the Lions' upcoming game in the Metrodome should not be considered a gimme, regardless of Minnesota's record.

Philadelphia (7-5) defeats Arizona (7-5) 24-21. This week, the Lions play the Eagles on the road, and Philadelphia is hot, having found their quarterback in Nick Foles. They're behind the Cowboys in the race for the NFC East, meaning next Sunday will be of major importance for the Eagles. The Lions would love to hang a loss on Philadelphia to take a step closer towards clinching the NFC North, and have a tiebreaker over both the Eagles and Cowboys just in case.

San Francisco (8-4) defeats St. Louis (5-7) 23-13. San Francisco is rolling along after another defensive victory. The Rams aren't out of contention, but this loss makes their wild card hopes that much tougher to fathom. Detroit might see San Francisco in the first round of the playoffs, which means it will be wise to watch the 49ers in the last few weeks of the season. Can they keep rolling?

New York Giants (5-7) defeat Washington (3-9) 24-17. On Sunday Night Football, the Giants kept their faint playoff hopes alive for the time being with a big win in Washington. The Redskins are done, and New York has a major game looming against the Lions in a few weeks. The NFC East hasn't been decided yet, meaning Giants fans will be rooting for Detroit this coming Sunday, then hoping to knock the Lions off when they match up with each other. Until they're officially ruled out, it's not wise to bet against Tom Coughlin, meaning Lions' fans should keep their eyes on the Giants the newt few weeks.

Thanks to another wild weekend in the NFC North, Lions are looking as close to a playoff lock as possible in early December. Of course, as any Detroit fan could attest to, there's no use counting those chickens before they hatch.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, NFL

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