Looking at the Detroit Lions’ Path to the Super Bowl
By Matt Urben
Congratulations Lions fans, despite a disappointing 3-game skid to end the 2016 season at 9-7, Detroit is one of twelve teams to make the Playoffs. Now, as most are predicting a defeat in the first round to the Seattle Seahawks, I thought I would see what it would look like if the Lions did somehow win. Because, why not? It COULD happen. Let’s look at all four potential games and how the Lions will potentially win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
Wild Card Round: At Seattle Seahawks
It all begins in Seattle for the Motor City Kitties. Can they avenge their 2015 loss on what was known as the “illegal bat” play? The Seahawks present a tough challenge any way you slice it. Yes, they lost the quarterback of their defense, in Earl Thomas, and have a very young offensive line, but in every other area, they have momentum going in their favor. Russell Wilson has Playoff experience, including an undefeated record at home in the Playoffs. Lions QB Matthew Stafford is 1-22 against winning teams on the road. The Lions haven’t won a Playoff game in 25 years.
Clearly, there’s a lot going against the Lions in this game. However, they have to start somewhere and the Seahawks aren’t quite the powerhouse they’ve been in recent years. Detroit has played Seattle tough the past few times. Last year’s loss was extremely close and a near Stafford 4th-quarter comeback away from a Lions win at Seattle. In 2012, the Lions defeated the Seahawks and rookie Russell Wilson on a late TD pass from Matthew Stafford. A Lions win is tough, but not impossible.
Divisional Round: At Dallas Cowboys
Dallas awaits the lowest seed in the second round, having clinched the first-round bye and top overall seed in the NFC. The Lions already know what they are up against. Detroit lost to Dallas 42-21 on Monday Night football two weeks ago. After a tight 21-21 game in the first half, these physical Cowboys dominated the Lions up front with Ezekiel Elliott in the second half and blew Detroit out of town.
So how can Detroit win? Well, they are playing a rookie, 4th-round pick in the first Playoff game of his career. Not to mention, extremely high expectations with a healthy, eager Tony Romo sitting on the bench. It’s not as if a bad game from Prescott would be unprecedented. He’s already set the bar so high and built up enough equity to lose and not lose his job. Plus, guess who has two 4th-quarter comebacks against America’s team? Mr. Dallas himself — Matthew Stafford.
Conference Championship: At Falcons/Packers/Giants
This is when it starts to get a little bit tricky. Do the Packers or Giants take out the two-seeded Falcons at home in round two? Can MVP front-runner Matt Ryan have his breakout Playoff moment? My honest guess is that it will be the New York Giants. They have the best defense of the three and it’s not even close. They have Odell Beckham & the party-boat posse, along with America’s mumbly little brother, Eli Manning, giving New York the edge over the two other teams in my opinion.
So, saying it is the Giants, let’s see how the Lions can win. We saw a painful, 17-6 loss in Week 15 at MetLife Stadium. Matthew Stafford had just hurt his finger in the previous game, and he was still adjusting to the finger-glove, torn ligaments thing. Not that he’s totally adjusted, but the Lions scored more points (21 and 24) in the following two weeks, which makes me think Stafford is figuring it out little by little. At this point, there would be some serious confidence building in Detroit.
Super Bowl: Patriots/Chiefs/Steelers/Texans/Raiders/Dolphins
I know there are six teams to pick from. But we all know it will be either the Patriots, Chiefs or Steelers. I think the Raiders are a darkhorse pick, but not any kind of favorite without Derek Carr. Miami and Houston also have backup quarterbacks, which I wrote about yesterday. So taking those three out, it’s a toss up. My gut says the Chiefs, but my head says it’s the Patriots.
How would the Lions beat New England? I made a giant jug of Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid (the best kind) to start things off. But I would say it starts with the Lions getting healthier. Maybe Travis Swanson gets back on the field and Detroit finally gets the starting five back in place up front. What if Ameer Abdullah somehow gets his walking boot off by this point and the Lions have a threat in the run game with Zenner and Abdullah?
The Lions getting to this point is hard to fathom. It’s very unlikely, and as you can see, the path here would involve multiple wins on the road against Super Bowl caliber teams. The chances are very, very slim. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the game tonight because even a small chance is still a chance.
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