It may be one out of one million, but there's still a chance

Posted Nov 26, 2012

In seven of the last eight seasons, a team with a 5-6 record or worse after 11 games has qualified for the playoffs.

There's a part toward the end of the classic Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels movie "Dumb & Dumber" when Carrey's character (Lloyd Christmas) is trying to gauge his chances of becoming the boyfriend of the attractive female character played by Lauren Holly (Mary Swanson).

"What are my chances," Christmas asks.

To which Swanson replied, "not good."

"Like 1 out of 100," he said.

"I'd say more like 1 out of 1 million," she said.

He then pauses and slowly cracks a smile before saying, "So you're telling me there a chance."

It's a funny part in the slapstick comedy and regrettably holds some meaning for these 2012 Detroit Lions.

After last week's 34-31 loss to the Texans on Thanksgiving, the Lions have fallen to 4-7 on the season and two games out of the NFC Wildcard picture with five games left on the schedule. Things aren't looking great at the moment for the Lions to make a return visit to the playoffs for the second consecutive season, but like Jim Carey's character said in the movie - there's still a chance.

It's a long shot, but the Lions could theoretically get themselves into the playoffs at 9-7 if they win their remaining five games against the Colts, Packers, Cardinals, Falcons and Bears.

Teams have come back from such dire straights to make the playoffs before.

In seven of the last eight seasons, a team with a 5-6 record or worse after 11 games has qualified for the playoffs.

The Redskins were 5-6 in 2005 and won their last five games to finish 10-6.

The Eagles did the exact same thing the very next year in 2006.

The 2008 Chargers were 4-7 after 11 games and won four of their last five to finish 8-8 to make the playoffs.

Though it doesn't appear 8-8 will get the Lions into the playoff picture this year, no one really knows how the last five games could shake out. Crazier things have happened.

It's more likely the Lions will have to be 9-7 after a five-game run to have a chance, though.

Of the six teams that are 6-5 or 5-6, only Washington won this week. That's good for the Lions, though it would've been better if they had taken advantage of a number of opportunities to beat the Texans on Thanksgiving.

The Lions have the tiebreaker on Seattle.

That takes us to the little matter of the Lions rolling off five straight games against five opponents with a combined win-loss record of 36-19.

It's not quite the "1 out of 1 million" shot Lloyd Christmas was facing, but it'll be tough - no doubt.

The Lions haven't won more than two consecutive games all season, but they did take the Packers and the Texans - Super Bowl favorites for some - to the wire the last two weeks, and had a shot to win both those games with one more play here or there.

The biggest key for the Lions is to get all three phases - offense, defense and special teams - playing good football at the same time. That's eluded them for most of 11 games and it's not clear how they'll all the sudden flip the switch and make it happen. Maybe having their backs further against the wall with no more room to take another step back will flip the switch.

The chances of everything coming together and the Lions making a miraculous run to sneak into the playoffs aren't great. But there's still a chance until the math says otherwise.

YearTeamRecord after 11 gamesFinished
2004 St. Louis Rams 5-6 8-8
2005 Washington Redskins 5-6 10-6
2006 Philadelphia Eagles 5-6 10-6
2007 Washington Redskins 5-6 9-7
2008 San Diego Chargers 4-7 8-8
2009 New York Jets 5-6 10-6
2010 Seattle Seahawks 5-6 7-9