The Detroit Lions capped off a historic Christmas weekend in 2023 by winning their first division championship in 30 seasons. That means they not only have clinched a spot in the playoffs but have guaranteed a home post-season game at Ford Field as all Division winners host games regardless of the win-loss record against their Wild Card opponents.

Update: Monday 12/26

After the Christmas Day games featuring NFC playoff teams Philadelphia and San Fransisco, the Lions path to the #1 seed just got even more interesting.

Heading into Week 17, the Lions are the #3 seed - they were in the #2 position before the Eagles beat the Giants.

The 9ers still have the inside track to the #1 seed but the Eagles and Lions both gained a game on the NFC West champs. The Lions vs Dallas game, which will likely be a playoff-like atmosphere on Saturday night in Dallas, will go a long way in determining if the Lions have a shot at the top spot. Dallas will be fighting for a playoff position. They're in, but will it be as a Wild Card or NFC East champion?

The Lions did not play either Philly or SF, so no head-to-head - the most simple of the NFL tiebreakers. We'll be slipping down to common opponents and strength of victory should two or three of the teams end up with the same record.

Original Story

After Sunday of Week 16, the Lions sit in the #2 seeding position for the NFC. In years past, a top 2 finish would have given the Lions a first-round bye. However after the league changed the playoff format a few years ago, only the top seed earns a bye.

So do the Lions have anything left to play for in the final two weeks of the season? They do as the top seed is still open to them.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings
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How the Lions Clinch the #1 Seed in the NFC in 2023

It's not as easy as win-and-in. The strong San Fransisco 49s sit atop the conference a half-game better than the Lions going into their Monday nighter against the AFC's #1 seed Baltimore.

The Lions also have to contend with Philadelphia and Dallas. Any of these teams closing out the season with victories will have strong chances at the top seed.

The Lions face Dallas in Week 17. Dallas is in the playoffs and in the hunt for the NFC East title. They also are in contention for the top seed. However after back to back losses to AFC East members Buffalo and Miami, they've got a narrowing path.

For the Lions, they'll need to win out almost certainly. The team's win over Minnesota not only gave them the division crown but kept them from elimination for the top seed. Likely any stumble in the final two weekends will keep them playing on Wild Card Weekend.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings
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With the 9ers playing Baltimore, they'll have a tough fight to keep the game ahead of the pack. If they do lose, they still own top-of-the-list tiebreakers like head-to-head and conference records.

With loss somewhere to close out the season, it's not improbable to see the Lions have something meaningful to play for in the final week of the season.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings
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Imagine a set-up where the Lions are playing for the Number 1 seed while the Vikings, their Week 18 opponent, could be in a position to win-and-in for a Wild Card rather than just be in a spoiler role. If that sets up, the NFL Gods in New York may think long and hard about putting that game into primetime nationwide coverage.

Late season, there is no better follow on NFL X than @NFLScenarios.

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Gallery Credit: Katrina Sirotta