How many times have we seen it; a team experiences a break-through season, only to take a step back the following year. Regardless of the sport, teams that experience sudden success, then are faced with playing with heightened expectations often fall flat under that added weight.
And that seems to be what the Detroit Lions are going through at the moment.
Not What They Had in Mind
Last year Detroit broke a decade-plus playoff drought. This year the Lions were expected to once again contend for a post-season berth. But so far this year Detroit has played nothing like a playoff team, as it did Sunday in a 20-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Lions now get a week off to get their act together before visiting the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
Detroit opened this season with a 27-23 victory over St. Louis, but needed a score with 10 seconds left to pull that one off. The Lions then lost a tough game out at San Francisco on a Monday night 27-19; no embarrassment there.
But since then Detroit lost in head-slapping fashion at Tennessee, and at home to Minnesota. So the Lions, at 1-3, are on the bottom in the NFC North, two games back of the 3-1 Bears and Vikings.
Also, with its slow start, Detroit has been the worst team in the league to include among weekly NFL picks, going 0-4 against the pointspreads so far.
Last year the Lions averaged 396 YPG, but just 95 of those on the ground. They’d like to be more balanced. But this year, while the Lions are averaging 412 YPG, their rushing production has dropped to 90 YPG.
The last two weeks, though, it’s been the play of the special teams that’s killed the Lions. In the loss to the Titans Detroit gave up a 105-yard kickoff return and a 65-yard punt return for scores; against the Vikings it allowed a 105-yard kickoff return for a score to start the game, and later gave up a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown that provided the eventual winning margin.
Detroit is 1-3 and in trouble of falling further off the pace in the NFC playoff races. After their bye week the Lions play the 3-1 Eagles in Philadelphia, then visit Chicago to take on the 3-1 Bears on a Monday night. Detroit could very well find itself 1-5 heading into a home game with Seattle Oct. 28.