Detroit Lions ranked as NFL’s top worst-to-first candidate

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions were ranked as the team most likely to go from worst to first in 2020.

In 2018, the lowly San Francisco 49ers posted a dismal season-ending record of 4-12 after losing their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, for all but three games due to injury. Their poor record earned the Niners the second overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Sound familiar Detroit Lions‘ fans?

Last season, the lowly Lions posted a dismal season-ending record of 3-12-1 after losing their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, for eight games due to injury. Their poor record earned Detroit the third overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

While last year was disappointing for the Lions, it turned out to be one of the greatest bounce-backs seasons in NFL history for San Francisco. With Garoppolo under center for all 16 games and first-round rookie pass rusher Nick Bosa leading the defensive charge, the Niners put up an impressive 13-3 record in 2019.

The 49ers ripped through the playoffs beating the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings and the 13-3 Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl LIV. And San Fransisco held a 20-10 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs going into the fourth quarter of the championship game.

Unfortunately for the Niners, they allowed quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to rattle off 21-unanswered points in that final frame, losing their shot at the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl victory.

Can the Detroit Lions really post a comeback season like the Niners?

The Lions are undoubtedly hoping they can field a similar resurgence this upcoming season. And having a healthy Stafford under center for 16-games plus first-round rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah leading the defensive charge would aid in that effort.

But after two disappointing seasons under head coach Matt Patricia, in which Detroit has a combined 9-22-1 regular-season record, can the Lions really pull off this kind of comeback performance? According to one NFL insider, the answer is yes.

Here’s what contributing columnist Adam Schein wrote on recently when ranking the Lions as his favorite team to go from worst to first in 2020.

"” … check the schedule. Detroit can start 4-4. And then they play Washington and Carolina before hosting Houston on Thanksgiving. Thus, the Lions could hit December sitting pretty at 7-4. … I’m not ready to pull the trigger on Detroit winning its first NFC North title just yet. But it is very, very realistic. And you Lions fans need to start embracing it.”"

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The Detroit Lions started last season with a 2-1-1 record, losing a last-minute thriller to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs just before their Week Five bye. The Pride would lose Stafford for the season a mere four games later. It’s not hard to envision the Lions being a much-improved team in 2020 with the various pieces they have in place … and if they can stay relatively healthy.