The Lions in Winter: Detroit Falls to Philadelphia, Raising Stakes For Bears

 

Screengrab Via Deadspin

Screengrab Via Deadspin

That was a crazy game. The Eagles defeated the Lions 34-20 in one of the best snow games I’ve ever seen; by that I mean there was a ridiculous amount of snow (Fox sideline reporter Molly McGrath said it measured eight inches in some areas of the field) but the game itself was quite entertaining. As you’d expect with those conditions, it was sloppy at times. Detroit fumbled seven (!) times, with five credited to Matthew Stafford; they lost three of those fumbles, including a crucial fumbled snap with just under eight minutes remaining in the game. The Lions trailed by eight, and had driven to the Philadelphia 23 yard-line, when a shotgun snap caught Stafford unaware, sailing past his helmet. Rather than falling on the ball, he attempted to pick it up, then bobbled it in the snow Leon Lett-style. That gave the Eagles time to dive on the ball, and they capitalized by driving for a put-away touchdown. A typically mistake-prone Lions effort. (For the record, the Eagles fumbled just once in the same snowy conditions.)

This is obviously good news for the Bears. The Lions loss means the Bears can tie for the divisional lead with a win over Dallas tomorrow night. As has been discussed, Detroit still holds the tiebreaker by virtue of their sweep of the season series, but if the Bears just have to outplay the Lions over the final three weeks of the season, I think they have a real shot to win the division. If the Lions lose once more, the Bears can clinch the division by winning out. (The Lions playing poorly seems much more likely to me than the Bears rattling off four straight wins with their tattered defense, but considering how unlucky the Bears have been this year, I’ll take any hope I can get.) I’m not writing off the possibility that the Lions go 1-2 over their final stretch; if that occurs, the Bears would only have to go 3-1 to win the title.

That is, of course, assuming they beat Green Bay in Week 17, as the Packers squeaked out a 22-21 win over the Falcons today. Green Bay sits at 6-6-1, meaning they cannot get to 10-6. Like Jay Cutler, the return of Aaron Rodgers is looming, and that’s certainly a somewhat scary possibility. But the scenario in which the Bears finish strongly enough to pass the Lions but weakly enough to finish behind the Packers seems like a remote possibility at this point. The only way that happens: Lions go 1-2 or worse, finishing 8-8, while the Bears finish 3-1, reaching 9-7 but losing to the Packers in the season finale, a loss that gets the Packers to 9-6-1. The Packers obviously have to win out in that scenario. Now that I’ve spelled it out, it seems a bit less unlikely, but the Packers go to Dallas next week, and Rodgers has yet to be cleared.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting divisional finish.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.