I’m not saying the Lions are going to make the playoffs. But it really is something to see all these Lions fans be absolutely certain a team 2 games out of the wildcard is done with 6 games left.— Mike Payton (@POD_Payton) November 19, 2018
This garnered quite the response. Lions fans and fellow writers blew up my Twitter with all kinds of comments. The most popular ones all had the same consensus. That consensus was that the Lions have no chance in hell of making the playoffs and they know because they know.
For the record, I never said they would or even could make the playoffs. I even started the tweet with “I’m not saying the Lions are going to make the playoffs.” This stopped no one from telling me why they wouldn’t.
You know what? They might not. I’ll go so far as to say they probably won’t. I know what lies ahead for the Lions. They have to theoretically win out or win enough games while hoping the teams in front of them lose out or lose enough games. It’s a long shot. I’m well aware of this.
But here and now, I’m finally willing to just come out and say that I don’t think it’s over yet for the Lions. I’m crazy and I know this. Despite the times where I can be quite negative, I’ve always sort of been Pride Of Detroit’s keeping-the-faith guy.
I have reasons why I think the Lions can pull it off, and I don’t think it necessarily requires winning out. I think it’s all about surviving longer than the rest of the bad teams in this division.
You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. The Bears, for example, are 7-3. That’s far from a bad team, right? I think there’s some underlying stuff to that record, though. For example, who have the Bears even played? The combined record of the teams they’ve already played is just 36-52-2. We’re crowning them for beating the Bills, Lions and Bucs. There’s another half of a season left. Do you really think the Bears can beat the Rams? Do you think they can beat the Vikings a second time? Do you think they can best Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?
As for the Vikings, their road doesn’t get any better, either. They only have three home games left. Their first is this week against the Packers. The next is on the other side of away games in Seattle and New England. They also have to visit Detroit, too, for what it’s worth.
The Packers, lastly, have yet to win a road game. And they have two divisional games left to play away from Lambeau. The Packers also have to face the Falcons and of course, the Lions too.
The Lions have the Bears on Thanksgiving and then the Rams. After that, they have the Bills and Cardinals before finishing the year with two divisional games. All of these games are winnable—except maybe that Rams game, but we’ll see.
I’m not alone here. The Lions themselves aren’t even thinking about packing it in yet. Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press spoke with Lions safety Glover Quin last week and he reminded us all that the Lions literally just overcame a situation very similar to this two years ago.
“We had that situation come up a couple years ago and we were 1-3, came home, won three in a row, we ended up getting to 4-3 and made the playoffs that year,” Quin said. “So anything can happen, we just got to go out and do it.”
“I’m not saying it’s not daunting,” Quin said. “I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m just saying, I’m pretty sure any other team that’s in the situation we’re in will take three home games in a row, Arizona-Buffalo on the road, Minnesota back at home and then a close at Green Bay.”
I can say all day why I think the Lions can do it. But in reality, I have no idea what’s going to happen. And as much as I look at the schedule and try to make an educated guess based off what I see, there’s a good chance I’ll be wrong one way or another.
I’ve been covering this team for four years next month. I’ve tried to predict outcomes and records over and over again in that time and I’ve been wrong nearly every time. There have been times when I was sure the Lions would lose, and they won. There have been countless occasions when the opposite has happened.
This isn’t limited to the Lions. I picked the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl in 2017 before the season began. I’m not alone here either. How many people thought the Buccaneers were going to be good last year? How many people were sure the Jaguars were going to be good this year?
It keeps going on from there. One analyst said the Browns would have the fifth best receiver corps in the league. The Browns are now 24th in receiving yards per game. Let’s go back to the Lions. How many of us all thought Ameer Abdullah was the answer at running back?
We don’t have to stop. Remember the Dream Team Eagles? They were supposed to win it all, Ryan Leaf was supposed to be as good as Peyton Manning, Suh was going to stay in Detroit and on and on and on.
I’m not saying that any of us are dumb. That’s certainly not what this piece is about. To bring it back to an elementary school term, we all specialize in educated guesses. Based on the knowledge and everything we’ve studied, we predict outcomes we deem probable. Sometimes we even manage to be right.
Having said all of this, I’ll say again, do I think the Lions will shock the world and make the playoffs? If I had to make an educated guess, the answer is no. But the reality is that I just don’t know.
Crazier things have happened. I continue to bring up the Panthers winning their division at 7-8-1 a few years back because it’s proof that we don’t know what a bad record in a bad division can do? And yes, I still do think this division is bad. I’m not convinced by any of these teams that they will have good-looking records when the season is over and done.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a team or two make the postseason with records that normally wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs. Just look at how poorly NFC Wild Card candidates performed in Week 11.
But above all, I am convinced that I don’t know the future, and I am convinced that crazier things have happened in sports. So let’s just sit back and see what happens before we say we know for certain what the future holds,