NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
Oct 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field. Lions won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Fans are always wondering whether their team will make the playoffs. In the case of the Detroit Lions, there are a few reasons to believe they’ll do much better than they did last year.

Of course, it’s up for argument. There are plenty of folks that’ll say the Lions had plenty of “close but no cigar” wins in 2016 and that there’s no reason to think it’ll change in this year’s campaign.

But, there are a few factors that could turn the tide.

Improved Defense

If the Lions can tackle what was a horrible pass defense last year (tied for the 10th worst defense in DVOA and had the fourth-worst passing defense since 87), it could really give them a shot in 2017. And, the team, in fact, has bulked up their back seven so there’s no reason to believe that the defense will be as bad as last year.

Revamped Offense

Of course, it’s way too early to tell if the offensive line has improved any. But, in adding TJ Lang and Rick Wagner, general manager Bob Quinn is on the right track. Though Lang may not be a fantastic run blocker and the same could be said of Wagner, they’re certainly better than Larry Warford and Riley Reiff.

The Lions also took on Michael Roberts at the tight end position and as far as one can tell, based on what we could see during the OTAs, he looks good to go as the primary blocking tight end. At least, it’ll give Eric Ebron some leeway for running routes and grabbing the ball.

The Matthew Stafford Factor

Let’s be honest, it’s going to be practically impossible for the Lions to repeat the staggering come-from-behind wins they had last year.

All but one of the team’s nine wins in 2016 came in one-possession games.

Yes, the Lions were actually outscored by practically all opponents last year and yet they made it to the postseason.

Obviously, plenty all of it had to do with Matt Stafford’s abilities. Say what you will, but the naysayers shouldn’t determine this team’s chances of making a better run this year.

Argue what you will, but even with last year’s less than impressive defense, this team made it to the playoffs. And, in considering the above factors it should give hope that 2017 will be much better for the Detroit Lions.

Keep up to date with the all the football spread for Lions games.


  1. FLIP IT. Everything written in this article is correct … and it’s not. What about the stats that explain why the Lions succeeded in making the playoffs? They are there but that’s not the emphasis of this piece. The Lions were shall we say fortunate to win and make the playoffs.

    10 one score games.
    Jim Caldwell is 19-11 in one score games in Detroit. He’s 34-20 in one score games as a head coach. Caldwell practices real game situations during his daily two minute drill without any timeouts. Stress. The entire offense practices stress and they are very good at it.

    18th Total Defense
    10th worst pass defense since 1987 and the still made the playoffs … how?

    13th Scoring Defense
    This is the one that explains why the Lions made the playoffs. Consider. The Lions were the worst in the NFL in pass defense and finished 18th in Total Defense. Whoops! Then better than that the Lions improved their Scoring Defense by five more positions.

    What that tells us is the Lions defense, as injured as they were, they held their own. They were the worst defense in the red zone giving up a TD 68 percent of the time. The reason the Lions were 13th in Scoring Defense and last in red zone defense is because the opposition didn’t get to the red zone as often as the other defenses. In baseball, Miggy’s batting average jumps up an down daily in April because the sample size is so small. Same here. But they don’t want to mention stats like this because they don’t support the Lions flaws and that’s the point of this article.

    The only factor I haven’t talked about is the OL. Without Decker there’s a pause as to the success they are expected to see this season. But it’s not Roberts but Darren Fells who will be the blocking TE. He’s been one of the best blocking TE’s in the NFL for a couple of years now. Nothing against Roberts but I will not dismiss a veteran’s ability and reputation on the potential of a rookie.

    The speed of the defense is supposed to be greatly improved. More depth in the secondary and it’s easy to surmise the Lions defense will improve. You improve that 13th ranked Scoring Defense and the Lions are very likely to return to the playoffs. After all, for all the stats mentioned in this article, the one stat that is most important is the one that changes the scoreboard. And in one score games, Caldwell has proven over three years that his Lions have the advantage.