The Top 5 Detroit Lions teams of the last 25 years
The final part of my month-long countdown, looking back at every Detroit Lions team since 1994 and picking out the best of the best.
The contestants for Super Bowl LIII are now officially set, and for the LIII’rd time, the Detroit Lions will not be among them.
As my ranking for the past 25 Lions seasons reaches its ending, and even the very best team on here can’t boast even a single playoff win to their credit, the only real conclusion I can draw from it is this: I really want there to be a new #1 on this list after next season.
I present, the Top 5…
5. The 2016 Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford in 2016 was every bit as important to the Lions’ relative success in ’16 as Barry Sanders was in ’97 (see #4). Without Stafford, or even if Stafford was playing but not at his very best, this team would have hard a very difficult time winning even three games. Going 9-7 and making the playoffs was a massive accomplishment given the circumstances, though missing out on the division title in the end and getting exposed in the playoffs definitely stung.
- 9-7, playoff berth
- Eight wins in a nine game stretch, including a five game winning streak
- Thrilling Thanksgiving win over Minnesota, on a Matt Prater field goal as time expired
- Eight fourth quarter comebacks led by Stafford, a new NFL record
Star Power: 5.5
- QB Matthew Stafford, transforming into John Elway for the season
- CB Darius Slay, starting to transform into “Big Play Slay”
- WR Golden Tate, the new #1 receiver after Calvin Johnson‘s retirement
Matt Prater was the only Lions player to reach the Pro Bowl, but Stafford silenced a lot of critics and Slay earned a lot of respect around the league during this season.
Entertainment Level: 10
- Every week was a thrill ride, and somehow an undermanned Lions team kept gutting out wins
- Stafford moments: Long drives vs the Colts, Redskins, and Vikings, trucking a Titans defender, the 4th down hard count vs the Jags, bowling through the Bears defense at the goal line, etc.
- Stafford was a constant, but a new man stepped up for clutch plays seemingly every week:
- Slay at Philly, Rafael Bush vs the Rams, Anquan Boldin vs Washington, Prater and Golden Tate at Minnesota, etc.
- Highlights of all eight comeback wins here
Total Score: 29.5 out of 40