The first and most important thing to know about the NFC wild-card standings is that the Detroit Lions control their chances with three games to go.
If the Lions win out, there’s nothing that can prevent them from making the playoffs.
If they win two of their next three — they play the Oakland Raiders this weekend, then host the San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve and close the season at the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 1 — they’re in pretty good shape, too.
The Lions (8-5) currently own the tiebreaker over both 7-6 teams chasing them. They beat the Dallas Cowboys head-to-head and have a better record against common opponents than do the Chicago Bears.
But if the Lions stumble down the stretch and win one or none of their final games, they could miss out on the playoffs to the Cowboys, Bears or one of two NFC West teams lurking in the standings.