Detroit Lions: Does defense really win championships?

Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are on the outside looking in, but seeing the final four teams begs the question, “Do defenses really win championships?”

The Detroit Lions made major strides in developing their defense over the course of the season. There were hot and cold at times, but at the end of the season, they are smack dab in the middle of total points allowed ranking 16th. They are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 360 points allowed.

What does that tell us? Both teams are average and out of the playoffs. It stands to reason that you must be above average to still be playing football in January, right? Wrong. The rankings of the four remaining playoff teams are all over the map when it comes to points allowed in the regular season.

The New England Patriots are the only team in the top 10. They rank seventh with 325 points allowed. The New Orleans Saints are next at 14th. They allowed 353 points, one touchdown less than the Lions. The Los Angeles Rams ranked 20th with 382 points allowed and the Kansas City Chiefs ranked 24th with 421 points allowed. Defense win championships, right?

Sure, opportunity on the defensive side of the ball can swing a game. Looking at you Philadelphia Eagles. A dropped pass turns into a game-sealing interception. Yes, the defense certainly did its job. But none of these four teams got to where they are because of their defensive clout.

This next stat might be somewhat surprising. The four remaining teams finished first through fourth in points scored during the regular season. Chiefs, Rams, Saints and Patriots scored 565, 527, 504 and 436 points, respectively. And where did the Detroit Lions rank? They rank 25th with 324 points scored.

Now, there’s nothing to say that next year will be any different. But these stats do point to the Lions need for a strong offensive coordinator that can put some points on the board with these players.

It was also reported that the Lions offensive line finished middle of the pack at 16th according to Pro Football Focus’ season rankings. Average. You’d think average rankings would mean this team was closer to 8-8 on the season rather than 6-10 with a top 10 draft pick.

The Lions are also one of 12 teams in the NFL with a defensive-minded head coach. While all the teams needing new head coaches are chasing after the young offensive-minded Sean McVay model, these Motor City cats are banking on defense winning championships.

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Once again, the offseason for the Lions turns to hope. And today, this team is hoping for a successful draft, a little luck in free agency and the hiring of a new offensive coordinator to change their ranking for points scored in a season. Because it turns out that in today’s NFL, offense is winning games and leading people to championships.