Being Lions fans, we’ve had more than our fair share of hopeless seasons. It’s easy to understand, if not to forgive, the dour attitude many Lions fans take whenever the team loses a game they ‘should have won’. I’ve already covered before how the the 2014 Detroit Lions defense is on pace to be one of the best defenses in history, but how can that be so with losses to teams like the Cardinals, Bills, and Panthers? Super Bowl teams don’t lose games like that, right? Definitely not defenses as dominant as the Lions have been. Well, about those Detroit Lions losses and their historical context…
The 2013 “Legion of Boom” Seahawks lost only three times, all to teams that would end the season with a winning record. Two of those losses were against divisional opponents, in fact, the 49ers and the Cardinals. With the most recent example of an elite defense losing against only those playoff caliber teams, how is it that the Lions can lose to a hapless team like the Panthers, or a team as messy as the Bills? The Seahawks, as it were, are an anomaly. Good teams lose games, it’s just a thing that happens. It can happen for any number of reasons, and the Lions certainly have plenty of reasons they can point to such as new schemes and injuries galore. They aren’t excuses, they are legitimate limiting factors for any team, and the fact of the matter is that the Lions have been winning despite those limitations.
The 2011 Steelers also only lost to winning teams. They would ultimately lose in the wild card round of the playoffs to a Tim Tebow led Broncos squad, with almost all of their starting defense out injured. The 2009 Jets made it all the way to the AFC Conference Championship game on the shoulders of their mighty defense, a single game away from the Super Bowl. In the regular season, they would lose to the 7-9 Dolphins, 6-10 Bills, and 7-9 Jaguars, however. Despite those regular season losses and a mostly hapless offense led by rookie Mark Sanchez, the team would roll the 10 win Bengals and 13 win Chargers in the playoffs before falling to Peyton and his Colts. Matthew Stafford has already thrown for more yards and TDs than the Jets managed during that season, with six games to go.
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The 2002 Buccaneers, considered one of the best defenses in history, were swept by the Saints, who despite a winning record were hardly a world beating team. You’ll find instances of these throughout history on teams that win. The 2012 Ravens Super Bowl team lost to a 4-12 Eagles squad and 8-8 Steelers team. The 2011 Saints ended the season with a 3 game losing streak, one of which was against a hopeless 3-13 Buccaneers team in overtime.
I could continue, but hopefully you get the reason I mention these championship teams. The Lions have installed a new scheme on both offense and defense, with nearly opposite results. That doesn’t mean they cannot turn their offense around, as the 2012 Ravens did with Jim Caldwell at the helm to make their last super bowl run. They can overcome injuries as well, like the 2010 Green Bay PackIRs did to win the big game. Good teams win games. Good teams also lose some games. The trick is to win more than you lose and keep trying to win. The 2014 Detroit Lions are doing that. They might win against the New England Patriots this week. They might lose. The season will keep on moving regardless of the outcome, and the Detroit Lions will be in the thick of the playoff race until the very end.