It is easy to look at the standings and dismiss the 2010 edition of the Detroit Lions as just another awful football team. Through eleven games the Lions have won only twice. It is safe to call the Lions win/loss record extremely disappointing.
The NFL standings do not tell the real story about this edition of the Lions. While analyzing the strength of the teams that the Lions have faced I noticed something surprising about the opponents they have played so far.
What surprised me was that six of the eleven teams they have played so far would be in the playoffs if they started today. There is nothing conspiratorial happening with the schedule, but the fact that the Lions have played that many playoff teams to this point is perhaps more telling than the standings are.
Through week twelve, the Lions have faced the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, New York Jets and the New England Patriots. All of these teams would be in the playoffs if the post-season started today. This list does not include the seven win Green Bay Packers.
Talk about a murderer’s row. It got me to thinking about how the Lions stacked up against every other NFL team in terms of schedule strength. This is essentially the total number of wins that your opponents have versus the number of losses they have. So that’s what I have done. I have compiled the numbers for each team. These numbers amount to fact and are the determining factor in looking at how easy or difficult a team’s schedule has been.
It turns out that the Lions Schedule strength is among the top 25% of all NFL teams and it should come as no surprise that their schedule has been this difficult. Here are some interesting tidbits that came out of this research:
- The Detroit Lions opponents have a combined record of 66-55.
- The Chicago Bears opponents have a combined record of 49-72. (Hmmmm – can you say FRAUD)
- The New York Giants opponents have a combined record of 51-70.
- The Atlanta Falcons opponents have a combined record of 63-58.
- The St. Louis Rams opponents have a combined record of 50-71.
- The New England Patriots opponents have a combined record of 57-64.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers opponents have a combined record of 65-56.
- The Indianapolis Colts opponents have a combined record of 65-56.
- The Kansas City Chiefs opponents have a combined record of 49-72.
Ultimately whether the Lions are on the right track remains to be determined. This much is true, they are moving in the right direction, they have more talent right now than they have had in quite some time and there are reasons to be positive about them for the first time in many years. After looking at how difficult the schedule has been so far, here are the reasons why the Lions are a better team in 2010 than they were in 2009.
- The Lions are giving the NFL’s best all they can handle for 60 minutes
- The Lions have legitimate playmakers on offense, defense and special teams
- The Lions have addressed areas of concern and made moves immediately to remedy them. Stefan Logan is an example of this. Their special teams play has been very good this year
- The Lions have physically punished far superior teams for large portions of games
- The Lions are showing offensive statistical improvements with backup quarterback play and are 15th in total offense through 11 weeks
- The Lions are 21st in total defense through 11 weeks
I am hopeful and I see the Lions as far improved everywhere. Another year of solid off-season activity via the draft and free agency and I see 2011 as a very exciting year for the Detroit Lions. Two wins through eleven weeks is a bitter pill to swallow but it is clear that they are headed in the right direction.