Detroit Lions’ Elite Defense is Capable of Winning Team Some Ultimate Prizes


Question: what does every Super Bowl champion have in common?

Answer: a dominating defense.

For that reason, it’s obvious where the statement “defense wins championships” came from. It does have merit in other sports, but was always born in football. Despite other team deficiencies, the historical links between defensive superpower and title victories is overwhelming.

More from Lions News

Think back to teams such as the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who used just enough offense paired with overwhelming defense to win titles. The New York Giants have surprised the New England Patriots twice recently with strong defensive efforts, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have made a franchise living winning with defense. Even the most recent champion, the Seattle Seahawks, rely on a punishing defense.

After watching the Detroit Lions dominate in 2014, and particularly against the Chicago Bears on Sunday in the middle of a vital playoff push, it’s becoming more and more clear that Detroit’s group has a serious chance to become the next in the lineage of defensive super powers to claim the ultimate prize.

Yes, it’s true. The Lions have looked that good.

Not only do the Lions have excellent statistics (3rd overall, 1st against the run, 14th against the pass), they get the timely stops that champions get. When the Lions are clinging to a slim lead, they can depend on the defense to turn away the opposition. After the offense makes a mistake or goes through a dry spell, the defense picks them up by getting the ball back or creating a sudden change opportunity. Though the resulting wins haven’t been pretty, they’ve been important wins nonetheless.

“To get 11 victories, I don’t care how you get them,” Jim Caldwell said Monday afternoon referencing the team’s win in Chicago. “When you win a December game, you better want to get better, but you also better be able to stand up and say you’re glad (you got the win).”

The same theme certainly holds true in January when playoff games roll around. Ugly wins are still wins the same, and the postseason mantra for everyone simply becomes survive and advance.

“When you get into the playoffs you can talk about a playoff mentality,” Caldwell said, downplaying a question of if his team has simply been playing out of desperation lately. “Often times, you find when you get into this time of the season, it’s going to take your ability to do certain things extremely well, because the teams you’re playing don’t have deficiencies.”

Detroit doesn’t have many deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, which could be the biggest reason they’re having some uncommon success. Teams with high-flying offenses and average defenses are routinely exposed quickly, but squads with spartan offenses and elite defenses often get hot and find a way to win games of consequence.

Teams with high-flying offenses and average defenses are routinely exposed quickly, but squads with spartan offenses and elite defenses often get hot and find a way to win games of consequence.

Certainly, such championship talk in Detroit must be tempered until it becomes a visible reality, considering the Lions’ most recent playoff win came 1991 and the franchise has never made a Super Bowl. But with every late-season game the Lions win thanks mostly to the efforts of their defense, the more real the possibility becomes that they could soon morph into one of those teams.

A long-awaited NFC North title in a winner-take-all game with Green Bay would merely be the first available prize. That says something about the trajectory of the team.

The singular trait that’s helped every Super Bowl winner get to the top of the mountain is currently abundant in Detroit, which is a stark difference from any playoff year past.

Win or lose this coming Sunday, that in itself is a reason to maintain reasonable levels of excitement for the upcoming postseason.