However, if the Seahawks lose against the Rams, the winner of Lions at Packers gets the No. 7 seed in the NFC and the loser goes home. It would set up a rare winner-take-all game.
Featured Game | Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
There have been 30 games in NFL history in the final week of the regular season featuring a “win-and-in” scenario for both teams, either entering the last week or at kickoff based on earlier results in the day, according to Pro Football Researcher Ivan Urena.
The Lions have played in three winner-take-all games in the last week of the regular season, most recently a 13-10 win in 1997 against the Jets. The Packers only game like this was in 2013 against the Bears for the NFC North title, which Green Bay famously won on Aaron Rodgers‘ fourth-down touchdown pass to Randall Cobb.
Former Jets defensive end Marvin Washington described these games best after the Jets beat the Dolphins in a 1991 win-and-in game.
“We might be the ugliest girl at the dance … but we’re going to put on our ruby-red lipstick and our pumps and our miniskirt, and we’re not going to stand on the wall. We’re going to dance,” Washington said (via The New York Times).
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Winner-take-all games have given fans a lot to cheer about in recent years. “Beastquake” doesn’t happen if the Seahawks don’t first beat the Rams in a winner-take-all game to get into the tournament. The 2011 Giants needed a win-and-in game before their Super Bowl run. The Cowboys famously lost three straight win-and-in games from 2011-13, and don’t forget their 44-6 loss to the Eagles in 2008, another all-or-nothing game for both teams. Robert Griffin III helped Washington run the table to make the playoffs as a rookie in 2012 capped by a win against the Cowboys. Cam Newton pulled a superman act by overcoming a car wreck and subsequent back injury in 2014, culminating with a win-and-in game to help Carolina rebound from a 3-8-1 start to make the playoffs.
Point being, winner-take-all games offer unique history. In a best-case scenario for the league and fans, we would be treated to something like last year’s Chargers-Raiders do-or-die game.
Here’s a look at the last 10 winner-take-all games:
This became a winner-take-all game based on how games played out earlier in the day, namely a Colts loss as a heavy favorite to the Jaguars. There was also a scenario where a Raiders-Chargers tie would result in both teams getting in and the Steelers being eliminated. It nearly happened, too, after a furious Chargers comeback and the clock ticking down in OT. However, a Josh Jacobs 10-yard run put Las Vegas in FG range, which led to Daniel Carlson’s game-winner.
2018: Colts 33, Titans 17
Andrew Luck threw three touchdowns to easily outduel Blaine Gabbert, who was playing in place of injured starter Marcus Mariota. This game led to Luck’s final career playoff appearance before retiring.
Cam Newton rebounded from a car wreck, subsequent back injury and 3-8-1 start to lead Carolina to the playoffs after a 31-point win over the Falcons in Week 17. They won a playoff game, too.
2013: Eagles 24, Cowboys 33
Kyle Orton threw a late INT filling in for Tony Romo, who was out with a back injury, sealing the Cowboys fate. It was the third straight year they lost a win-or-go-home game in the final week.
2013: Packers 33, Bears 28
Aaron Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone and threw one of the most iconic passes of his career, a 48-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-8 in the final minute to win the game.
2012: Washington 28, Dallas 18
Robert Griffin III finished Washington’s turnaround from a 3-6 start to NFC East title, winning seven straight games to end the season, including a 28-18 win over Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Fellow rookie Alfred Morris was the hero with 200 rush yards and three touchdowns.
2011: Giants 31, Cowboys 14
Eli Manning threw three touchdowns, including a 74-yarder to Victor Cruz, who had 178 receiving yards in the win. Dallas lost four of its final five games to miss the playoffs while this win sparked New York’s Super Bowl run.
2010: Seahawks 16, Rams 6
The Seahawks became the first division champs with a losing record in NFL history, beating rookie Sam Bradford and the Rams with Charlie Whitehurst starting at QB in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle hosted a playoff game and beat the Saints the following week — a game known for Marshawn Lynch’s “beastquake” run.
2008: Eagles 44, Cowboys 6
This became a do-or-die game shortly before kickoff after losses by Tampa Bay and Chicago. It turned into a blowout, a 44-6 Eagles’ win in a game that featured Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo, plus Terrell Owens against his former team. It’s still the Eagles’ largest win in the history of the rivalry.
2008: Chargers 52, Broncos 21
The Chargers made the playoffs at 8-8 after a 4-8 start thanks to a Week 17 rout of the Broncos, who blew a three-game lead with three weeks to play. Philip Rivers outdueled Jay Cutler in a QB rivalry that had a little bit of bad blood, while LaDainian Tomlinson scored three touchdowns in the win.