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NFC playoff picture: Breaking down Lions' seeding possibilities

So far it's been a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays for Lions fans after Detroit went on the road and beat Minnesota on Christmas Eve to clinch the NFC North title and at least the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs.

But as Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the win, "This is just the beginning. We feel that way."

One day after clinching their division, the Lions' path to the NFC's top seed and a first-round bye became more realistic when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

As it stands heading into Week 17, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Detroit all have 11-4 records with two games to play.

The 49ers still hold the No. 1 seed because they currently hold the conference record tiebreaker over both the Eagles and Lions with a 9-1 mark against NFC opponents. Both Philly and Detroit are 7-3 in the conference. The only way either the Eagles or Lions leapfrog the 49ers is to finish the season with a better record than them.

That means the Lions will have to win their remaining two games and hope the 49ers stumble the next two weeks at either Washington (4-11) or vs. Los Angeles Rams (8-7) to end the year. The Rams, who have won five of their last six contests, could be fighting for their playoff hopes in that Week 18 game. That certainly won't be an easy matchup for the 49ers.

Go inside the Detroit Lions locker room following the team's division-clinching victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

If both the Lions and 49ers win their two remaining games, the Lions would get the NFC's No. 2 seed ahead of the Eagles because the Lions would have a better record against common opponents in that scenario. That means the Lions would be guaranteed to host a second playoff game at Ford Field in the Divisional Round of the playoffs if they advance out of the opening Wild Card round.

At the very least, the Lions can't finish below third in the conference standings no matter what happens the next two weeks in Dallas (10-5) or home Week 18 vs. Minnesota (7-8).

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