As you know by now, Golden Tate is no longer a member of the Detroit Lions.
Earlier in the week, news broke that the Lions had traded their most consistent receiver over the past 4+ seasons to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round draft pick.
The move is one that has come under much scrutiny, especially from some local media members who cover the Lions for a living. Some have said the trade is a sign of the Lions front office waving the proverbial “white flag” on the season, while others have said the move would send a bad message to the rest of the players in the locker room and potentially cause them to “give up” on the season. I am not making his stuff up.
Anyone who believes either of those things is 100% clueless about NFL football and how it works. First of all, trading Tate had absolutely nothing to do with waving a white flag on the 2018 regular season. Though Tate has been the definition of consistency for the Lions since coming to the Motor City, he is not a player and will never be a player who puts the team over-the-top in terms of contending for a Super Bowl. The Lions offense has plenty of weapons and Tate, because of his age and contract situation moving forward, became expendable.
As far as this move sending a bad move to the rest of the players in the Lions locker room, that is a complete joke and anyone who wrote that should be relieved of their duties of covering professional sports. The NFL is a business and every single NFL player in the league is well aware of that. They know they can be released or traded at any given moment just as they know they are free to sign with any team they who shows interest in them when they are a free agent. Sure, Tate was a great locker room guy and a leader on the team, but that does not mean the show does not go on. Trust me, the Lions front office and the players on the field will be doing whatever they can to win every game left on the schedule.
Now, for those of you out there who believe this trade killed the Lions chances of winning the NFC North this season, I have some news for you. The Detroit Lions were not going to win the division WITH Golden Tate on the team and they are not going to win the division WITHOUT Golden Tate on the team. That ship sailed this past Sunday when the Lions wasted a golden opportunity AT HOME against the Seattle Seahawks. With a win over the Seahawks, Detroit could have moved to 4-3 on the season and winning the NFC North would have been a reachable goal.
That is not the case anymore.
When the Tate trade was made, I tweeted out a comment that I still believed the Lions would win the NFC North. That was before I decided to sit down and predict EVERY NFC North game for the remainder of the season.
After going through every remaining game for the Lions, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Green Bay Packers, I came to the conclusion that with or without Tate, winning the NFC North was not an attainable goal for a team that just lost to the Seahawks to drop to 3-4.
Heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings, the Lions trail the first place Bears by just a single game. (Hence my uninformed tweet that Detroit would still rise up and win the division)
After predicting the remainder of the games for each team in the NFC North, I came to the conclusion that the Lions would have to finish the season with 10 wins if they want to win the division. That would mean finishing the season 7-2 against what on paper looks to be a very difficult schedule.
As you can see above, finishing the season 7-2 will be extremely difficult for the Lions to do and it would have been equally difficult to accomplish if Tate was still on the roster.
In my opinion, the Lions will go 5-4 to end the season, which would put them at 8-8. That, according to my projections would be enough to tie them with the Bears, who I also have going 8-8. I have the Vikings winning the NFC North with a record of 9-6-1 (that includes a loss to the Lions in Week 16).
So, for those of you out there who are going to try and blame the Golden Tate trade for the Lions not winning the North (I believe they offered Tate an extension before trading him but he demanded too much money), you will have to think of another excuse because they were never going to win it anyways.