And that’s a wrap. Mathematics is the Detroit Lions’ sole hope of inspiration at this point, and by all conventional wisdom they can effectively be counted out of the playoffs. Yes, if Detroit won out the remainder of the year and certain teams lost they would likely make the playoffs, but I am certainly suspending hope of an historic late season boom.
The last two weeks have been very telling for this Detroit team. Entering the Minnesota game last week at 4-4, it gave the Lions an opportunity to beat a divisional rival and make a serious case for themselves in the NFC North power struggle. Last week was characterized as a “must-win,” but after the loss it was easy to brush off. All they had to do was take care of business at home against a depleted Packers team that would be missing several key defensive playmakers.
Going into yesterday’s game against Green Bay, the Lions desperately needed a win to stay alive in the NFC playoff race. They needed a win to stay in wild card contention. They needed a win (several) to just be considered a contender in the division. Detroit lost two key divisional games in a row, and given the situation it says all too much about the state of this football team.
Good teams can play poorly. We have seen the Giants coast through the regular season only to see a November or December surge, as well as watching the Chargers play abysmal for at least part of the season and then always find themselves in playoff contention. There is no question that the Lions have talent. Say what you want about these Lions; while their secondary is a further-punctured-version of Swiss cheese, their highly lauded defensive line and explosive offense should be able to compensate for that. The last two games gave the Lions an opportunity to account for their early-season mishaps and start becoming the great team they are supposed to be. They had a chance to put their poor play to rest and get some quality wins against divisional opponents.
Not only did Detroit fail to win both, they did not win either. They aren’t just playing poorly now, but they can officially be termed underachievers. Which leaves the question, who is to blame? The Lions have seem unready to play and unable to execute a full game plan, so who does that fall on? The Lions seem to lack leadership at every level, and this needs to be corrected if this talented but troubled team wants to be steered in the right direction. Detroit needs less legal trouble, less stupid penalties, less ill-advised turnovers, and more accountability.