Lions clinch playoff berth with Washington loss

The Detroit Lions are in the postseason, regardless of the team’s result in a Sunday night matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The Lions enter Week 17 with losses in the last two week, but earned a spot after Washington lost to the New York Giants earlier Sunday.

After starting the season at 1-3, Detroit won eight out of its next nine games and rallied to the division lead. But things went south for the Lions when Matthew Stafford suffered an injury in December.

Washington is a 7-point favorite at FedExField at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Since going 0-5 SU and ATS in their previous five games against the Giants, Washington is 2-0 SU and ATS in the last two games in this head-to-head series.

Washington took care of business last Saturday on the road against the Chicago Bears and got the help they needed from around the league to re-take control of their own destiny. The 41-21 win brought Washington’s record to 8-4-1 SU and 10-3 ATS over the team’s last 13 games. Washington’s defense has been suspect all season, but it came up big with five interceptions in last week’s blowout win.

In a Week 14 victory against the Chicago Bears, Stafford dislocated the middle finger on his throwing hand and has to play with a glove for the rest of the season. He wasn’t his usual self the following week; the veteran quarterback failed to lead his team into the end zone in a 17-6 loss to the Giants.

Matthew Stafford spent most of the year on the fringes of the MVP conversation, but he’s thrown two interceptions and no touchdowns during this two-game losing streak. The Lions need him more than ever, but the finger injury on his throwing hand is still bothering him.

Quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t topped 200 yards passing in any of the team’s past three games

LG Justin Pugh. He has missed the past five games with a knee injury and could really help the struggling offense. Quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t topped 200 yards passing in any of the team’s past three games.

That is where Pugh really comes in handy. He has allowed nine pressures and no sacks in eight games this season, according to Pro Football Focus. He can also provide support for struggling left tackle Ereck Flowers. The Giants offense is looking for anything that can get them on track. Pugh and running back Shane Vereen (concussion) are their best chances.

Their defense dominates again. It’s hard to move the ball against them and even harder to convert yards into points. The Giants have the league’s top red-zone defense. They’ve also come through consistently late in the games this season, and that is where the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford have made their living.

Yet it’s an enormous investment of time and money. He estimates it’s an $8,000-$9,000 bill each trip to Cleveland. And for what? This isn’t the Patriots; it’s the Browns. Is it worth it?

“Yes, it’s worth it 100 percent, because this is the thing that has united us as a family,” Serrano said.

Added Edna: “It’s not only to attend the game, but it’s the time to share with family, doing things together, talk. Every time I go there, I like to think we are celebrating life.”

Edna, who once was so surprised to have learned she’d married an NFL fan, said she’s now a “partner in crime” to her husband’s Browns addiction.

The most fervent fan in the family, however, might be Juan Pablo. He admitted it can be frustrating to travel eight or more hours just to see his team lose, but he can’t get enough of being at FirstEnergy Stadium. He tries to get autographs and savor the atmosphere before, during and after games.