Paths To Winning The NFC North For The Detroit Lions

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The Ways That The Detroit Lions Can Win The NFC North For The First Time.

NFC North Standings

1. Minnesota Vikings (4-2)

(2-1 Division Record), (4-1) Conference Record

2. Green Bay Packers (4-2)

(1-1) Division Record, (3-2) Conference Record

3. Detroit Lions (3-3)

(1-0) Division record, (3-3) Conference Record

4. Chicago Bears (2-4) 

(0-2) Division Record, (0-4) Conference Record

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Remaining Schedules

Minnesota Vikings

Week 7: Vs Baltimore Ravens

Week 8: At Cleveland Browns (London)

Week 9: Bye

Week 10: At Washington Redskins

Week 11: Vs Los Angeles Rams

Week 12: At Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving)

Week 13: At Atlanta Falcons

Week 14: At Carolina Panthers

Week 15: Vs Cincinnati Bengals

Week 16: At Green Bay Packers

Week 17: Vs Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Week 7: Vs New Orleans Saints

Week 8: Bye

Week 9: Vs Detroit Lions (Monday Night Football)

Week 10: At Chicago Bears

Week 11: Vs Baltimore Ravens

Week 12: At Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football)

Week 13: Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Week 14: At Cleveland Browns

Week 15: At Carolina Panthers

Week 16: Vs Minnesota Vikings (Sunday Night Football)

Week 17: At Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions

Week 7: Bye

Week 8: Vs Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football)

Week 9: At Green Bay Packers (Monday Night Football)

Week 10: Vs Cleveland Browns

Week 11: At Chicago Bears

Week 12: Vs Minnesota Vikings (Thanksgiving)

Week 13: At Baltimore Ravens

Week 14: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 15: Vs Chicago Bears

Week 16: At Cincinnati Bengals

Week 17: Vs Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears

Week 7: Vs Carolina Panthers

Week 8: At New Orleans Saints

Week 9: Bye

Week 10: Vs Green Bay Packers

Week 11: Vs Detroit Lions

Week 12: At Philadelphia Eagles

Week 13: Vs San Francisco 49ers

Week 14: At Cincinnati Bengals

Week 15: At Detroit Lions

Week 16: Vs Cleveland Browns

Week 17: At Minnesota Vikings

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Now, for each team I will group all of their remaining games into one of three categories: likely to win, could go either way, or likely to lose. We will be doing this to very roughly predict the likelihood of how each team in the NFC North will finish this season.

Minnesota Vikings 

Likely to win: at Cleveland Browns, vs Cincinnati Bengals, vs Chicago Bears

Could go either way: vs Baltimore Ravens, at Washington Redskins, vs Los Angeles Rams, at Detroit Lions, at Green Bay Packers

Likely to lose: at Atlanta Falcons, at Carolina Panthers,

Predicted final record: Between 7-9 and 12-4

Green Bay Packers 

Likely to win: at Chicago Bears, at Cleveland Browns

Could go either way: vs Detroit Lions, vs Baltimore Ravens, vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs Minnesota Vikings, at Detroit Lions

Likely to lose: vs New Orleans, at Pittsburgh Steelers, at Carolina Panthers

Predicted final record: Between 6-10 and 11-5

Detroit Lions

Likely to win: vs Cleveland Browns, at Chicago Bears, vs Chicago Bears, at Cincinnati Bengals

Could go either way: vs Pittsburgh Steelers, at Green Bay Packers, vs Minnesota Vikings, at Baltimore Ravens, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs Green Bay Packers

Likely to lose: N/A

Predicted final record: 7-9 and 13-3

Chicago Bears

Likely to win: vs Cleveland Browns

Could go either way: vs San Francisco 49ers, at Cincinnati Bengals

Likely to lose: vs Carolina Panthers, at New Orleans Saints, vs Green Bay Packers, vs Detroit Lions, at Philadelphia Eagles, at Detroit Lions, at Minnesota Vikings

Predicted final record: Between 3-13 and 5-11.

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Scenario One: Win Out

This is the option that most fans would like to see. Green Bay is only one game ahead of the Lions, but they still play twice. So if Detroit were to win all of the rest their games, they would still finish ahead of Green Bay, even if the Packers’ only loses for the rest of the season were against the Lions. In that scenario, the Lions would be 13-3 and the Packers would be 12-4.

Detroit has already beaten the Vikings once, and they play one more time this season. If Detroit were to win out and Minnesota’s only loss for the rest of the season was at Detroit on Thanksgiving, the teams’ record would be tied and the Lions would have the head to head tiebreaker over the Vikings. In this scenario, both team would have a 13-3 record, with Detroit being (2-0) against the Vikings.

Winning out seems unlikely, but it is not impossible. Just last season we saw the Lions go on an 8-1 run in the middle of the season after a 1-3 start, so we need to hope they can catch on fire like that again. As you can see from my estimations above, I don’t think the Lions have any sure loss type games remaining on their schedule, so there is a possibility that they get hot.

Scenario Two: Hope The Other Teams Falter

This scenario involves the Lions dropping a few of the “could go either way games,” and finishing in the 9-7 to 12-4 range. In this scenario, the Lions would need to count on the Vikings and Packers losing at least a few games each in order to win the division.

We don’t know what Green Bay is going to be for the rest of the season. There is a chance that Brett Hundley is not a good quarterback and they are a non factor late in the season, but there is also the chance of him being good. Regardless, I think it is safe to assume that they will drop a few of the games that could go either way since they have inexperience in the offensive line, defensive secondary and now quarterback position.

The Vikings similarly have quarterback issues, as backup quarterback Case Keenum has started all but two games for them this season. While Keenum has been playing moderately well for the Vikings, he was known for his inconsistent play on his previous teams, so he is absolutely capable of losing some of the “either way” games.

Minnesota is reportedly getting back their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in a few weeks, so that could stabilize their quarterback position. However, after a season and a half off and one of the most severe knee injuries possible, it seems likely that his play would be very rusty, and he could also conceivably drop a few of the “either way” games.

Scenario Three: Down To The Wire

The most likely scenario is that the race for the NFC North is close again in 2017 — it has been decided in week 17 in each of the last three seasons. Detroit’s closest competition will likely be Minnesota, but if Green Bay is decent with Brett Hundley at quarterback, Aaron Rodgers could come back late in the season and make the Packers a big threat.

I think Green Bay will fall to the 6-10 to 8-8 range, leaving the Lions and Vikings to battle it out for the division title. I think both teams will finish in the 9-7 to 11-5 range, and the key game on the entire season for both teams will be their match-up at Ford Field on Thanksgiving day. As of week six, it is looking like that could very well be the game that decides the division winner.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, please follow me on Twitter @lucasjwalker00, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the Detroit Lions Subreddit!

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