It boggles the mind to think of how fortunate the Detroit Lions have been this year. Yes, they're a decent team, maybe even slightly above average, but every possible break that could fall their way -- HAS fallen their way. Not only in the games they participated in, but amongst their competion elsewhere in the NFC. Consider in no particular order ----
Before the season even began, the Lions had an incredibly weak schedule handed to them. Besides their mandatory 6 NFC North division games, the remaining 10 only had them playing two really good teams. Arizona and New England. Even at Arizona, Cardinals starting QB Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending injury just prior to the Lions game. Arizona would win anyway. In New England, the Lions got thrashed.
They've had 4 -- count em -- 4 games where they staged improbable last minute comebacks to win, including one where they got a second chance after a penalty against THEMSELVES. Lions' fans would say they've found different ways to win. Perhaps. But some highly questionable calls by the refs that went their way and Lady Luck continuing to smile on them hasn't hurt either.
Besides the weak non-division schedule, look at the NFC North itself. The Packers are predictably in the playoff hunt, though they've shown some chinks in their armor here and there. Aaron Rodgers played horribly in his last game against Buffalo, and the Pack got beat. An anomaly? Maybe. This week the Cheesers are on the road against a terrible Tampa team. If they bounce back with a win, it sets up a showdown in Lambeau with the Lions in the final regular season game. If they lose again, the Lions are division champs. The way this magical season has gone so far for the Lions, yours truly wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Bucs find a way to knock off the Packers.
The Lions themselves played horribly at home against the Minnesota Vikings and were lucky to squeak out another last second win. And let's not forget Adrian Petersen wasn't available for the Vikes.
The Chicago Bears have gotten so bad, they've benched Jay Cutler, he of the whopping $127 million 7 -year contract signed less than a year ago.
Look around at the rest of the NFC. It's playing right into the Lions' hands as well.
After starting out 9-3, the Philadelphia Eagles seem to be imploding. They've lost three in a row, including the last against the lowly Redskins. Perhaps it was only a matter of time. Despite head coach Chip Kelly's high-paced offense -- somehow he wound up with Jets' castoff Mark Sanchez as his quarterback. A ticking bone-headed time bomb that was bound to go off sooner or later.
The Cowboys are in the mix. Surprisingly, Tony Romo has yet to pull his usual December swoon. But December isn't over. A loss against the not-too-shabby Indy Colts in their next game, entirely possible, would be beneficial to the Lions. Don't be surprised if it happens.
The entire NFC South is a joke. Somebody has to win the division and qualify for the playoffs, but does anybody really think the likes of New Orleans, Atlanta, or Carolina will go far in the postseason? Please.
Out in the West, like Philly, the San Fran 49ers have gone into a death spiral. They were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs last week. Who would have ever guessed that would happen when the season began?
That leaves the dogfight between Arizona and Seattle. After a slow start, the Seahawks have returned to form in recent weeks. But guess what? These two teams square off this week. Somebody has to lose. Either way, it would be beneficial to the Lions. If Arizona wins, they lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But due to injuries, they're on their back-up, back-up, back-up quarterback. Even at home, they would likely be vulnerable in the playoffs. If the Seahawks prevail (they're an 8 point favorite), they would only remain tied with the Lions (assuming Detroit dispatches the aforementioned free-fall Bears).
In short, the Lions have caught every break possible with their own schedule and game results, while everything else around the NFC seems to be falling their way as well. The Lions clinched a playoff spot by virtue of the Eagles losing to the Redskins. They're in.
So add it all up and what do you have? If the Lions win out and things continue to fall just right around the rest of the conference, they could conceivably have home-field advantage in the playoffs, and only have one semi-tough team standing between them and the Super Bowl. With even MORE luck, it won't be Seattle. That would likely be a problem.
But just think. The Lions finally in the Super Bowl?
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