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The Detroit Lions didn’t tank and I’m glad

Having a better draft pick would’ve been nice, but Sunday was too fun not to sit back and enjoy.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

As the Detroit Lions were laying the hurt on the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon, like every Sunday between September and December, the interwebs were filled with ANGRY FANS.

While each of these angry fans had a different way of saying it, the basic gist was, “The Lions can’t even tank correctly.”

Of course, given how understandably snarky this fan base has become after years and years of losing, I don’t really blame them one bit for getting angry over something like this. But this was beyond the “Same Old Lions” crowd taking their weekly potshots at the organization. Many fans who are calm, collected and people I respect, were livid that the Lions were squandering their top-five pick.

And let me be clear, I get it. I completely understand. In the long run, there is absolutely no question the Lions were better served losing the final game against the Packers. The fifth pick is better than the eighth pick. And I’m not the kind of person that believes a Week 17 win will result in carried-over momentum in 2019. The way the team performed on Sunday will have literally no impact on how the Lions look on Week 1 in 2019 (other than worse draft position).

So I’m not here to take down fans who were disappointed with a win, but I will present my side of the story.

As a fan, you only get 16 games a year to enjoy. While some may view each NFL season as an all-or-nothing gamble—either your team wins it all or they don’t—I think that’s a way too simplistic way to look at things as a fan. Each game is an individual event, a TV show, if you will. You can enjoy each bite of the season without “accepting mediocrity” or “drinking the Kool Aid”. I know this was a bad Packers team and I know they were extremely beat up.

But none of that matters. I’m not proclaiming the Lions are an amazing team after this win or saying that Jim Bob Cooter deserves another shot. I’m just trying to enjoy the Detroit Lions in the moment, and a 31-point smackdown of the Packers is a pretty damn good bit of entertainment for Lions fans, regardless of context.

So I’m not mad at the people that were angry on Sunday afternoon, but I do feel a little sorry for them. For me, Sunday was awesome. The Lions offense was finally entertaining again. We got to see Matthew Stafford throw some incredible passes, and we saw Matt Prater throw a “lollipop” touchdown. Brandon Powell had a breakout game, and Zach Zenner continues to make a case for the No. 2 back in 2019. And that’s not even touching on the defense, which has remained incredible for the last month and half of the season. I feel sorry for the people that can’t enjoy that individual game for what it was—an absolute beat down of a division rival—just because it cost the team a couple spots in the draft order.

Look at this! LOOK AT THIS! Quandre Diggs danced on the graves of Packers fans. How could you not love this?

Maybe I have trouble delaying gratification, but I’ll always gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. The draft holds no guarantees, and the eighth overall pick still puts the Lions in a pretty good position to take a talented college player in April. So the Lions still have a pretty damn good draft pick and they got to sweep the Packers in embarrassing fashion. That’s a win-win Sunday for me.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.