Playoffs!? Don't talk about ... playoffs?! You kidding me??
It was laughable a month ago. It's the real deal now. Winners of six of their last seven, the Lions are hunting down one of the most improbable playoff berths in NFL history. At 7-7, they're hot on the heels of the 7-6-1 Commanders for the final NFC wild card spot with three winnable games to go.
Yep, we're talking about playoffs in Detroit. (In Detroit!!)
"It’s right there in front of us," Jared Goff said Tuesday on 97.1 The Ticket. "We control our own destiny to an extent and yeah, I think we talk about it just like we talk about everything else. It’s not like we’re trying to hide from it. We know what we need to do, but it’s one week at a time. If we don’t handle our business this week, we’ve got no ability to further talk about it. We have to handle our business every week and see where it falls at the end."
The latest math says the Lions have a 40 percent chance of making the playoffs. Their odds could climb to 60 percent with a win this Sunday against the Panthers and up to nearly 70 percent if the Commanders also lose to the 49ers and the 7-7 Seahawks lose to the Chiefs. Regardless of other results, the Lions have a 96 percent chance of making it if they win out. In reality, their path to the playoffs is simple:
"We win ‘em, we got a good chance," Goff said after their win over the Jets. "We don’t win ‘em, we probably don’t."
It wasn't a pretty win last Sunday, which made it all the more encouraging. The Lions got it done when they weren't at their best. They have won three games in a row for the second time this season, distancing themselves further each week from the team that was 1-6 at the start of last month. Goff called the win over the Jets "the sign of a really good team."
"A team that’s learned how to win now and trusts each other and believes in each other," he said. "We know that we can do things like that in the fourth quarter and make up for past mistakes and not feel like the game is lost with one mistake. The margin for error is slightly bigger than it used to be. The ability to win in different ways and the ability to win an ugly game on the road like that speaks volumes to who we are now."
The Lions opened as three-point road favorites against the Panthers, who might be 5-9 but won't be pushovers. They have playoff hopes themselves, one game behind the Buccaneers for first place in the weak NFC South. But the Lions won't be caught off guard. They know what's at stake, and what awaits them if they keep handling their business. Dan Campbell said Tuesday on The Ticket that "every win from this point on has more significance."
"There is more on the line than there was last week going into this one," he said. "We win this one, there will be more on the line when we play Chicago (the week after). But with that, man, we can’t tighten up and start becoming something that we’re not, otherwise we’ll go back the other way."
Playoffs!? Why not.
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