On Thursday, ESPN’s Hank Gargiulo calculated each NFL team’s most important game for the 2017 season. I use the word “calculated” because he used ESPN’s Football Power Index projections to measure how each game would change a team’s playoff probability based on whether the team won or lost. (Side note: Lions Wire’s Ty Schalter did a great job explaining why ESPN’s FPI projections were essentially completely worthless without an actual 2017 data to go on).
So what did the analytic machine spit out for the Detroit Lions? According to ESPN, the Lions’ most important game is Week 9 on the road against the Green Bay Packers on “Monday Night Football.” According to the article, the Lions’ playoff odds jump from 24.6 to 39.9 percent with a win at Lambeau.
But because their method of calculation is flawed, we wanted to present the question to you, the audience. Today’s Question of the Day is:
What do you think is the most important Lions game in 2017?
(Don’t say “the next one.” If you say “the next one,” I will threaten to ban you, but ultimately do nothing.)
My answer: I think Detroit’s opening divisional game (at Minnesota, Week 4) will be the most important of the season. The beginning of the schedule is brutal for Detroit with tough matchups against the Cardinals, Giants and Falcons to start. Now that we know Taylor Decker will likely be missing for all three of those games, Detroit may be lucky to get one win out of those three. If that’s the case, Detroit will need to keep its head above water by starting their divisional schedule with a win on the road against the Vikings.
Detroit’s first six games are all against NFC opponents, and five of them have made the playoffs in the past two years. Detroit needs to get through that gauntlet with at least two or three wins, and none would be more valuable than another win at U.S. Bank Stadium.