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NFL playoff picture: What does Bills-Lions mean for AFC, NFC standings

The Bills face the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills speaks with his team in a huddle against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field on November 20, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

UPDATE: It took more than expected, but the Bills came back and beat the Lions 28-25. The Bills improve to 8-3 and are in first place in the AFC East and second place overall in the AFC. If the Dolphins beat the Texans on Sunday, Buffalo will drop back to second in the division and fifth overall. The Lions dropped to 4-7 and are in tenth place in the conference.

The NFL has reached the Thanksgiving holiday, and Thursday will open with the traditional Detroit Lions home game. The Buffalo Bills travel to Ford Field and the two teams will kick off their game at 12:30 p.m. ET. The game will air on CBS. The Bills are a 9.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

More often than not the Lions are struggling by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, but for the first time since 2017, they’re in the playoff picture. They face a Bills squad firmly in the AFC East race and a win helps both teams in a big way in Week 12.

Bills playoff picture

Current AFC standing

The Bills are 7-3 and tied for first with the Dolphins in the AFC East. The Dolphins currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker, but the two teams face off again in Week 15. Buffalo is in fifth place in the conference, holding the top wild card berth for the time-being. The Patriots, Bengals, and Jets are all 6-4 and sitting a game back of Buffalo. If the Bills lose to Detroit, they would potentially drop into a big clump of teams in the wild card race. If the Bills beat Detroit, they would remain in fifth, but could climb as high as second depending on how the Dolphins, Titans, Ravens, and Chiefs all do this week.

Lions playoff picture

Current NFC standing

The Lions are 4-6 and sit in second place in the NFC North. They’re four games back of the Vikings, so their division chances are limited. They are a half game up on the Packers, who have a bye in Week 14.

The wild card race is where things get interesting. The Lions are in tenth place in the conference, a half game back of ninth place Atlanta, 1.5 games back of the eighth place Commanders, and two games back of seventh place Seattle. If the Lions beat the Bills, they’ll either move past Atlanta or at least move closer to Washington with the Falcons and Commanders facing off on Sunday. If the Lions lose, they could end the week anywhere from 10th to 13th place in the division.