The Detroit Lions meet up with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday looking to not only move to 4-1 on the season, but to end a 22-game road losing streak in the state of Wisconsin.
The Lions’ last road win over the Packers came on December 15, 1991. The Packers were on their way to a 4-12 season and would make a trade for Brett Favre about two months later. No one could have thought that day that it would be the last Lions road win over the Packers for at least the next 22 games. Only a fool would have bet on that happening, but it has and the odds are staggering.
Treating each game as a coin flip, the odds of the Lions losing 22 straight road games to Green Bay are 1 in 4,194,304. To put that in perspective, the odds of a Michigan resident being struck by lightning in a given year was calculated at 1 in 519,799 by DiscoverTheOdds.com.
But let’s be honest, those games weren’t coin flips. Even had the teams been equal in each of the 21 seasons of the streak, the Packers would be expected to win more than 50% of the time. Tonight’s Thursday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns is a matchup of roughly equal teams. According to the Massey Ratings, the probability of the Browns getting the home win is set at 58%. Applying that probability to the Lions-Packers situation, the odds of a 22-game Lions losing streak becomes less likely than being struck by lightning, but still just 1 in 160,171. In percentage terms, that’s just 0.0006%.
But let’s be even more honest, the Packers have been far better than the Lions over the course of the streak. Looking to the Massey Ratings once again, the Denver Broncos check in as the number one rated team while the Washington Redskins are ranked #25. Those two will meet in Denver in a few weeks and Massey pegs the Broncos’ win probability at 96%. Even if the Lions had just a 4% chance to win any of the 22 games, the odds are better that they would have come up with at least one win than to lose all 22. The odds of the 96% favorite winning all 22 games is about 40.7%, leaving a 59.3% chance that the underdog gets at least one win.