Even in defeat, the Detroit Lions look very much like legitimate playoff contenders in the NFC this season. Will they be able to keep it up?
The Detroit Lions have gotten off to a strong start to the 2019 campaign with a 2-1-1 record. Even though they lost at home in Week 4, that was to the Super Bowl-contending Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City needed to bat away a Matthew Stafford Hail Mary attempt to secure the 34-30 victory. Are we ready to say the Lions are a legit contender in the NFC to make the playoffs?
On this week’s episode of Stacking the Box, FanSided‘s Matt Verderame and Josh Hill, along with former Lions offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, discuss this very topic. It’s still early, but the Lions have certainly impressed during their first four games this season and the league has taken notice (44:50).
“I’m in that they’re playoff contenders,” said Verderame. “They actually really impressed me. I gotta be fair, I came into the year thinking they were a five or six-win team…They did a lot of good things in that game. I think Matt Stafford is playing some of the best ball he’s played throughout his career.”
Schwartz tends to agree. “I’m in on this as well, but with a little trepidation. The Lions have to get out of their own way now. It’s about time to stop being the Lions. Stop fumbling inside the [five-yard line] twice. Stop using your timeouts poorly. Stop having all these errors. If they could just get out of their own way, they’re 100 percent a playoff contender.”
What has helped the Lions in the early part of the year is that they have a balanced offense and that they have an identity as a football team. Stafford has been great, even if he’s not physically 100 percent. Having Kerryon Johnson as an emerging star running back will only help their cause. So the offense looks good, but it’s so much more than that.
Detroit has an identity of being very physical in the trenches on both sides of the ball and can make plays at all levels in the receiving game. Head coach Matt Patricia was much-maligned during his first year leading the team in 2018, but this year’s squad has a bit of the feel of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.
That’s not to say that the Lions are going to win the Super Bowl, or even get to it, but they compare favorably to Doug Pederson’s breakout team in Philadelphia a few years ago. As Verderame said, the division is tough, but the Lions play a brand of football that should translate into enough wins to make them a serious playoff contender in the NFC this season.
Here are a few other topics discussed on this week’s episode of Stacking the Box:
- Good Morning, Football‘s and The NFL Today‘s Nate Burleson says he hopes Jalen Ramsey “gets over it” and stays with the Jacksonville Jaguars (25:40).
- Does Dwayne Haskins save Jay Gruden’s job with the Washington Redskins (43:15)?
- Buffalo Bills earned respect in loss to New England Patriots (46:22).
- Will more than one first-year head coach be fired? (48:03)
All this and more!