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Wednesday open thread: Is the Saints game a must-win for the Detroit Lions?

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Is it too early in the season for a must-win game?

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions were knocked from their pedestal by the Carolina Panthers in Week 5. Gone are the days when the Lions shared a piece of the NFC North lead. Detroit’s impressive 3-1 record against the NFC is now just a pedestrian 3-2. They are still clinging to playoff spot, but just barely.

With the bye week just five days away, the Lions have one more big game before their week of rest. The Lions head south to play the 2-2 New Orleans Saints, Detroit’s sixth consecutive in-conference game. A win puts them at a healthy 4-2 record heading into the break, while a loss would drop them to a disappointing 3-3.

While the game is worth the same as any other, there is significant symbolic difference between going into the bye two games above .500 versus entering on a two-game losing streak.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Is Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints a must-win game for the Detroit Lions?

My answer: Absolutely not. I find the term “must-win game” one of the most overused tropes in sports. Is there a significant difference between 4-2 and 3-3? Sure. Could the Lions really use their first win over an NFC South team after dropping games to the Falcons and Panthers? Of course.

But a 3-3 record at the bye is anything but catastrophic for the Lions. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, the Lions will remain 1-0 in the division with the opportunity to win five more NFC North games, including two against the division-leading Packers.

As for the emotional toll of entering the bye week on a two-game losing streak? The Caldwell-led Detroit Lions have overcome much more than that before. They overcame a 1-3 start last year. They nearly completely turned around a 1-7 start in 2015 (finishing 7-9). A 3-3 record at the bye should have no clear emotional impact on this team.

A loss to the Saints would certainly be disappointing given Detroit’s 3-1 start, but Detroit’s season isn’t going to be decided in October. How the Lions perform in November and December will have much more of an impact on how their 2017 season turns out.

Your turn.

Poll

Is Sunday’s game vs. the Saints a must-win game for the Lions?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Yes
    (289 votes)
  • 36%
    No
    (168 votes)
457 votes total Vote Now