Lions Would Benefit If NFL Follows Through With 8th Playoff Spot This Season
The end of the NFL Season was already going to be nuts. Had Monday Night Football with the Bills and Bengals not turned out like it did, Detroit would still be looking at a possible playoff birth if the Seahawks lose Sunday afternoon... but the odds are still kind of slim.
However, there's a possibility that the Seattle vs. Rams game might not mean as much on Sunday, as the NFL is considering adding an 8th playoff spot for this season only. This would GREATLY benefit the Lions' chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Why We're Here
It's crazy how one game can throw off an entire league, but that's exactly what happened this past Monday. During the Bills v. Bengals Game in Cincinnati, Buffalo Safety Damar Hamlin went down with one of the scariest injuries in recent memory.
We now know, he suffered a cardiac event after what seemed to be a routine play, tackling Tee Higgins from the Bengals. But moments after the play, after Hamlin stood up, he collapsed on the field, and was administered CPR and taken to the hospital.
Updates later this week confirm, Hamlin is still listed in critical condition, however, he is breathing 50% on his own, awake, and talking with family again. All signs point to a strong recovery.
The game was inevitably cancelled, and on Thursday, the NFL ruled it a no-contest, meaning the game wouldn't appear on either team's record as a win, loss, or tie. Obviously, priority lies with making sure Hamlin is OK, as well as making sure the rest of the league was mentally doing alright after seeing such a tough-to-watch situation played out, either right in front of their eyes, or on live television.
But the NFL does have to do their job, and figure out how to continue the season. So they've been hard at work to figure out HOW to proceed from here.
With the game ruled a no-contest, it means you have to consider winning percentage when seeding the teams. Problem is, the Bills were fighting to keep a No. 1 seed away from the Chiefs. Had the Bills won that game against the Bengals, they would have held onto it. But now, when comparing win percentages, all KC has to do is win on Sunday, and they take the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The benefits of a No. 1 seed being, you get a bye in the first week of the playoffs, and an extra week of rest. For the Bills to lose out on that because a member of their own team nearly died on the field isn't exactly fair.
SO, one option that has been discussed is adding an 8th team to this year's playoffs, and giving both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds a bye on the first week of games. It would give the Bills the bye week they were fighting for, AND a much needed week off to collect their thoughts, and process things.
How This Helps the Lions
No matter what, the Lions were going to need some help to get into the Playoffs a couple weeks ago. They needed to win out their last two games, and losses from Washington and Seattle. So far, they notched a win against the Bears, and Washington understood the assignment.
Coming into this week, they still needed to beat the Packers, and needed Seattle to lose to the Rams.... but maybe now, not so much.
Should the NFL add an 8th spot in the playoffs, it would effectively eliminate the need for that Seattle loss, and turn Sunday night's game against the Packers into a true "Win, and Get In" scenario.
So it's not taking away from the drama of Sunday Night Football this week. No matter what, the Lions were playing to make sure the Packers DIDN'T make the playoffs. But now, instead of relying on the Rams to come through and beat Seattle, Detroit could hold their playoff fates in their own hands.
Again, the reason this scenario is happening is an awful one, and we're all happy to hear that Damar Hamlin is doing better every day. But this new scenario could get the Lions into the playoffs, and put the rest of the NFL on notice...
The Brand... New... Lions... are comin' for ya!