The Detroit Lions took care of business at home Saturday night with a dominating 42-17 win over the Denver Broncos. Couple that with a loss by Minnesota (7-7) in overtime earlier in the day in Cincinnati, and Detroit is in a great spot with a three-game lead over the Vikings with three to go.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he can't wait for next week and the opportunity they have going on the road to play the Vikings on Christmas Eve with a chance to clinch their first division title in 30 years.
"Yeah, look, this is about to be a tough environment," he said. "Going on the road at Minnesota, they got an outstanding defense, they've changed a couple of things up offensively just watching crossover tape. So, this is not going to be easy.
"Defending (NFC) North champs from last year, but man we wouldn't have it any other way. Go out there on the road, tough environment, and we got a chance to get the next one, so we are going to be looking forward to it. I know I am, and I know our guys will. So, we did what we needed to do today against a hot team to get to 10 wins and now we got to find a way to get to 11."
The Lions could clinch a playoff spot before they hit the road next week to battle for the division.
On Sunday, if the Los Angeles Rams (6-7) lose to Washington (4-9) and Tampa Bay (6-7) losses to Green Bay (6-7) the Lions can clinch a playoff spot. They can also clinch if Los Angeles, Atlanta and Green Bay all lose Sunday. Atlanta (6-7) is on the road against one-win Carolina, however. If Green Bay and Tampa Bay tie and the Rams lose or tie, Detroit's in too.
Maybe the most likely scenario, however, has Lions fans having to wait until Monday. If Seattle (6-7) loses to Philadelphia (10-3) on Monday Night Football, Detroit is in.
Second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams caught a season-high four passes against the Broncos for 47 yards. Williams hadn't caught more than two passes in any game this season before Saturday.
"Yeah, he's coming along, he really is," Lions quarterback Jared Goff said of Williams. "And, again, it's the work in practice, it's all the extra hours and everything he's doing to deserve it and I trust him. He's where he needs to be.
"He's catching the ball in tough locations and I think it's only going to keep going up for him. The sky's the limit. He's a hell of a player, he's a hell of a kid and he's working hard right now."
MELIFONWU STEPS UP
The Lions might have a problem a lot of teams would like to have this time of year. With veteran safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson likely to return from a torn pectoral muscle this month, it's expected he and second-year player Kerby Joseph will pair up at the position.
But third-year safety Ifeatu Melifonwu certainly left an impression on coaches with the way he played Saturday. Melifonwu had eight tackles, a strip sack, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and two passes defended in the win over the Broncos.
"What I'm enjoying most is just playing honestly," Melifonwu said. "Just being able to play, being on the field. I can't say if there's anything specifically, just I'm enjoying just being out there, and I thank God I'm healthy and I'm out there and that's it."
Health has been the biggest thing that's held Melifonwu back early in his career. He played in just seven games as a rookie in 2021 and 10 games last season.
"Iffy, his thing really has been the durability," Campbell said. "Well, he's been healthy, he's been able to stay on the field and his body's holding up and he's a smart, athletic, physical player. He's got length and range and him back there with Kerby (Joseph) look, we're getting better, we're getting better."