How the Detroit Lions Can Get the No. 1 Seed in the NFC Playoffs

The San Francisco 49ers looked vulnerable Monday night for the first time in months, and the path to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs is wide open for the Detroit Lions.

After Monday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the new No. 1 team in my NFL Power Rankings, the 49ers are in control of the top seed on the NFC side and homefield advantage.

If the 49ers win — they visit the lowly Washington Commanders this week and close out the regular season with a home game against the Los Angeles Rams — they'll earn a first-round bye and the road to the Super Bowl will go through Levi's Stadium.

But the Lions can clinch the No. 1 spot if they win their remaining two regular-season games and the 49ers lose once in the final two weeks. The Lions visit the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night and close the regular season at home against the Minnesota Vikings. They are currently tied with the 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC with 11-4 records.

Hard Earned: The Detroit Lions' NFC North-clinching victory in Minneapolis was several games in the making

The Lions clinched their first division title in 30 years and a top-three seed in the playoffs by beating the Vikings on Christmas Eve, but Saturday's game in Dallas looms large for seeding.

The 49ers own all tiebreakers in the NFC based on conference record (9-1), and the Eagles control the two seeds ahead of the Lions. But if the Lions beat the Cowboys and Vikings, they'll move past the Eagles in the rankings based on a common-foe tiebreaker.

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After Saturday, the Lions and Eagles will play five common opponents: the Cowboys, Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles' record against those teams is 4-2, with losses to the Cowboys and Seahawks. The Lions have a 3-1 record against those teams and a chance to go 5-1 with two more wins.

The Cowboys (10-5) are technically in the hunt for the NFC East title and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, and if the Lions and Eagles both lose once each of the final two weeks, things shrink. The tie-breaking process.

For now, the Lions control their own path to the No. 2 seed and could climb as high as No. 1 with a little help.

on This week's power rankings:

1. Baltimore Ravens (12-3)

2. San Francisco 49ers (11-4)

3. Miami Dolphins (11-4)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (11-4)

5. Detroit Lions (11-4)

6. Dallas Cowboys (10-5)

7. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

8. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)

9. Cleveland Browns (10-5)

10. Los Angeles Rams (8-7)

11. Seattle Seahawks (8-7)

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)

13. Houston Texans (8-7)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)

15. Indianapolis Colts (8-7)

16. Cincinnati Bengals (8-7)

17. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)

19. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

20. Chicago Bears (6-9)

21. New Orleans Saints (7-8)

22. Green Bay Packers (7-8)

23. Denver Broncos (7-8)

24. Atlanta Falcons (7-8)

25. New York Jets (6-9)

26. Los Angeles Chargers (5-10)

27. Tennessee Titans (5-10)

28. New York Giants (5-10)

29. Washington Commanders (4-11)

30. New England Patriots (4-11)

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31. Arizona Cardinals (3-12)

32. Carolina Panthers (2-13)

Contact Dave Birkett [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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