It feels like it has been a while since the Detroit Lions played a significant football game. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks in a blowout way back in Week 8 and they fell to 3-4 on the year. Golden Tate was traded days later and the season felt lost. That game started a streak where Detroit would go on to lose four of five and fall entirely out of the playoff race. There was nearly a month between competitive football games for the Lions, as they seemingly got blown out every week. A win against the Carolina Panthers even felt empty, as the team was still just stuck at the bottom of the standings.
This week is different, though. While Detroit still does not have any realistic shot at the playoffs (no matter what our good friend Mike Payton has to say), this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals can have a lasting impact on the state of the franchise.
What if the Lions lose to the Cardinals?
There is one obvious benefit to losing this week. The Arizona Cardinals are 3-9 and a game ahead of the Lions in the draft pick standings. A loss this week could bump Detroit all the way to the third overall pick in the draft. This is huge for the Lions. Detroit does not need a quarterback, no matter what you may think, and they will have their pick of the litter early in the draft.
The Lions will be guaranteed at least one of Greedy Williams, Ed Oliver or Nick Bosa if they pick at three. Those are three standout defensive talents that play positions that could revitalize the team. If the Lions land one and they reach their potential then the Lions could be on their way to having a top-tier defense.
On the other hand, losing to the Arizona Cardinals is bad. Really bad. Really, really bad.
Detroit has lost a lot of games this season but they have been to good teams for the most part. Getting bludgeoned by the New York Jets in Week 1 was... interesting? But beyond that they have not had any huge gaffes. The San Francisco 49ers still had Jimmy Garoppolo when they met in Week 2. The Cowboys, Vikings, Seahawks, Bears and Rams are all teams that are set to make the playoffs, though. Detroit is a bad team, but since Week 1 none of their losses can be classified as a disaster.
Losing to the Cardinals would be a disaster. Arizona has won three games this season. Two against a Garoppolo-less 49ers and one against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13. For context, Green Bay fired head coach Mike McCarthy after the loss to the Cardinals.
Arizona is a terrible team. Draft status be damned, Detroit has no excuse to lose this game. The Lions are a team that has holes on the roster, the Cardinals roster is just a hole. As embarrassing as these past few weeks have been for Detroit, nothing will be as embarrassing as losing to a team who realistically was not supposed to win four games this year. A loss in Week 14 would truly be rock bottom.
Due to nepotism and his status as a rookie, Matt Patricia’s will not suffer the same fate as his fellow coach in Green Bay, but this will be a huge derogatory mark on his first season as a head coach.
While it is hard to say that a game between two teams with a combined 7-16 record is important, this game means a lot for Detroit going forward. This week gives the Lions a chance to either get their season back on track at the expense of a future defensive star, or work their way up the draft order at the expense of their pride.