The “Discount Double Choke” has quickly become my favorite term to describe the awful showing that the heavily favored, Super Bowl bound Green Bay Packers displayed in yesterday’s divisional playoff game. A team that seemed destined for a Super Bowl and a half decade of NFC North Dominance failed to deliver the title — and there’s evidence to believe that the division might not be theirs for too long, as well, opening the door for the Detroit Lions to make a run.
With their massive first round upset, the Packers might have had the most disappointing playoff showing for any NFL team in history. The only 15-1 team to be “one and done” — ouch. However, the Packers aren’t alone in being a disappointing 15-1 team. It’s a small sample size, but they are the 3rd NFL team to go 15-1 in the last 14 years and the 1998 Vikings and 2004 Steelers only faired marginally better in the playoffs. Each won a game before losing their Conference Championships.
While the Lions return to the playoffs has been a great step in the right direction, it seemed that with the dominating Packers in the division, a chance at a NFC North Division title — and the first home playoff game since 1994 — seemed like a pipe dream for the next few seasons. However, not only did the ’98 Vikings and ’04 Steelers fail to make it to the Super Bowl while going 15-1, each team took a significant back in win totals and in the standings the following seasons. The Vikings fell to 10-5 and second place behind the Bucaneers in 1999. The 2005 Steelers, while they did win the Super Bowl in Detroit, had to win their final 4 games to make it to 11-5 and a second place finish in the AFC North. The Steelers won the championship as a wild card that season.
So while the Lions took a significant step in the right direction this season, the next logical step is a NFC North division title and subsequently a home playoff game. Even with Green Bay’s devastating loss, the Lions will need some help in the draft, have a couple of key free agents that need to be resigned and could use a free agent or two from outside the organization, in order to step up to a level of the Packers. However, a little research tells us that the Lions might just get a little help from history too.