Did you realize it’s already Week 7 of the National Football League? The regular season is almost halfway over and it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that many Detroiters, myself included, had written the Lions off. Truthfully, it wasn’t.
At the end of Week 4, the Lions were sitting at 1-3, and fresh off an embarrassing 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears. This had all the makings of past Lions seasons that ended with them drafting in the top five of the NFL Draft. But then something happened.
As injuries struck, more pressure was placed on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, and he delivered. Playing the best football of his career, Stafford was able to lead the Lions to two straight victories to get their heads right at level. Now at 3-3, the Lions season looks much different than it did two weeks ago, and with a pivotal game coming up against the Washington Redskins at home, the Lions will have the opportunity to show fans they’ve truly turned their season around.
Why the Lions need a win
With the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys looking poised to win their respective divisions, the Lions and Redskins will both be vying for one of two potential playoff wildcard spots. The Redskins are already a game above the Lions at 4-2, and a loss to Washington would really put Detroit behind the 8-ball. A win however, would mark three straight victories fro the Lions and put an end to the narrative that the Lions are playing without heart.
There are currently 11 NFC teams with three wins or more, which obviously creates a giant cluster as teams eye how they can make that second half playoff push. The good news for the Lions is that they have one of the more favorable schedules in the league. The bad news is, so does the rest of their division.
The Redskins certainly aren’t a bad team, but this isn’t a game the Lions can afford to, nor should they, lose at home. Sitting at 4-3, while holding the tiebreaker against two other potential four-win teams (Eagles, Redskins) looks a hell of a lot better than sitting at 3-4 and looking up to a 5-2 Redskins squad. This is a must-win Week 7 game if there ever was one, and fortunately for the Lions, it is very winnable.
Why the Lions can’t lose
Obviously, the Lions can’t lose because they would be digging themselves into a gigantic hole, as stated above. However, a loss signifies something else. It signifies the Lions not quite being able to get over that hump that has always seemed to hold them down. Losing a game to a playoff contender that isn’t really better or worse than the Lions is so… Lions. The fan base would be demoralized. That’s not because they are fair-weather fans, but because they finally have the chance to get their hopes up about this season and then it seemingly all gets snatched away from them, again, like they thought it was after Week 4.
Breaking the dreaded ‘Same Old Lions’ moniker is a much larger task than winning against the Redskins of course, but Sunday’s game might signify the start of that process. If the Lions start 1-3 and go on to make the playoffs in General Manager Bob Quinn’s first season, the culture around the Lions will change.
Now, if the Lions lose this game and then drop a few more to fall to say 3-7, ‘S.O.L’ will be in full effect, and Detroit will turn their attention to the Pistons and Red Wings.
Sunday’s game against Washington is not only a potential make or break game for the season, but it could be the push towards an entire culture change for the organization.