You’d be hard pressed to convince any Detroit Lions fan that they’ve ever been spoiled. Nearly three decades without a playoff win and over 60 years without a championship. If I were to ever suggest that Lions fans are spoiled, I’d be thrown over the Ambassador Bridge.
But when it comes to the 2016 season, that just may be the case. On the surface, it was nothing special. The Lions finished with a mediocre 9-7 record and saw a quick exit in the playoffs by a clearly superior Seahawks team. That’s the kind of mediocre, plain season that got head coach Jim Caldwell fired a year later.
Of course, it doesn’t take a great memory to remember why that season was so crazy for Lions fans. Matthew Stafford led the Detroit Lions to eight fourth-quarter comebacks that season; 13 of Detroit 16 regular season games were decided by a single possession.
We weren’t nearly as lucky in 2018. In fact, by one measure the Lions were one of the most boring teams of the year.
Detroit was involved in just six one-score games in 2018, tied for the second fewest in the entire NFL. The league average was 8.5 games, while the Giants and Steelers led the NFL with 12 one-score games in 2018.
Perhaps most interesting about the Lions’ 2018 season was that it wasn’t just their losses that were lopsided; their wins were, too. Detroit’s average margin of victory was 13.5 points, while their average losing margin was 11.7 points. Just think of Detroit’s signature wins from 2018: New England, Green Bay (x2), Miami. Those were all fairly comfortable wins for Detroit—something Lions fans probably aren’t too familiar with.
That’s probably the way that head coach Matt Patricia would prefer it, but his staff will have work to do to make sure they’re more competitive in all of their games, and not just their wins.