CINCINNATI - By now you know the drill: The Lions need to win their final two games, starting today against the Cincinnati Bengals, and get some help to make the playoffs.
But as you make that last-minute trip to the mall or head over to the in-laws for some tasty Christmas Eve dinner, here are the games you need to keep an eye on today, and what needs to happen for the Lions to stay in the playoff chase.
Lions (8-6) at Bengals (5-9), 1 p.m.
OK, this is obvious. The Lions need to win in Cincinnati for the first time since 1992 in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. If they lose, they're out. If they tie, well, let's just say they'd need more help than they already do now. Root for: The Lions
Falcons (9-5) at Saints (10-4), 1 p.m.
The Lions' best chance to make the playoffs, assuming they win out, is for the Atlanta Falcons to lose their last two games against the Saints today and the Carolina Panthers next week. The defending NFC champs would finish 9-7 if that happened, and the Lions would get in with 10 wins. The Falcons beat the Saints two weeks ago, 20-17, but New Orleans has won six straight at home since losing to the New England Patriots in Week 2. Root for: The Saints
Buccaneers (4-10) at Panthers (10-4), 1 p.m.
The Bucs have lost four straight and are riddled with injuries, but if they can pull off an upset in Carolina today it would greatly improve the Lions' chances of making the postseason. Atlanta and Carolina play next week, so a Panthers loss coupled with a Falcons loss would guarantee one team of finishing with a 10-6 record. The Lions still would need either the Cowboys or Seahawks to win out to win a multi-team tie-breaker with a team other than the Falcons (Atlanta owns all tie-breakers in that situation), but that could make for an interesting Week 17. Root for: The Bucs
Seahawks (8-6) at Cowboys (8-6), 4;25 p.m.
It really doesn't matter who wins this game, what matters for the Lions' playoff hopes is that whoever wins also wins next week. The Cowboys, who get Ezekiel Elliott back on the field, visit the Eagles next week, though Philadelphia could be resting its starters if it locks up homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks host the Cardinals in what could be Arizona coach Bruce Arians' final game. Root for: Anything but a tie
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