by Chris Morgan
Last season, the Detroit Lions had their best season in a while, going 10-6 and making the postseason. Hopes were high for this year. However, it has been, at best, a slow start. Even though the Lions won their last game, a road effort over Philadelphia after which the Eagles fired their defensive coordinator, they currently sit at 2-3. A playoff spot is still a possibility, but there is another outcome that seems more like. Currently, the Lions are at the bottom of the NFC North. It would not be surprising to see them finish there.
This is only in part a reflection of Detroit’s ability and potential record. The Lions play in a very tough division. It’s sort of difficult to get a handle on records and predictions right now since some teams have had their byes and others haven’t. That being said, currently the Chicago Bears are currently 4-1 atop the North, the Minnesota Vikings are 4-2, and the Green Bay Packers are 3-3, and they are on bad call on the final play of a game from being 4-2.
Honestly, finishing better than third seems unlikely at this point. Sure, the Lions have some easy games left, but the other NFC North teams also get to face off with the NFC West and AFC South. Plus, the Packers just lambasted the Houston Texans, a team Detroit will likely struggle to beat on Thanksgiving. Green Bay may be 3-3, but by the end of this season they could easily be, say, 12-4. They are a really good team. The Bears could also potentially win this division. They’ve looked good thus far. Additionally, we have to keep in mind that, if not for injuries to Matt Forte and Jay Cutler last season, the Bears likely would have finish with a better record than Detroit. The Lions can’t count on that happening again.
That just leaves the Vikings. They are probably punching over their heads thus far, but they certainly look improved. Adrian Peterson seems healthy, Percy Harvin has been excellent, and Christian Ponder appears improved, even if I think he will regress a bit. More to the point, Minnesota has already beaten Detroit, and they did it at Ford Field. That hurts Detroit’s chances of overcoming the Vikings in the standings.
An 8-8 or 7-9 season seems like a reasonable projection for the Detroit Lions at this point. In some divisions, that wouldn’t be too shabby, but in the NFC North that could easily leave the Lions at the bottom of the division. Of course, a team’s record is more important, but it would still be an aesthetic disappointment to see the Lions in the cellar of the NFC North yet again. Detroit plays in a very tough division, perhaps the best in the NFL, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon more than likely. Maybe the Lions turn things around and end up in the playoffs. However, at the moment, finishing at the bottom of the NFC North seems the more likely outcome.
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Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.