The Detroit Lions suffered their first loss of the season in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. While a loss is still a loss, it proved something that many had thought over the previous two weeks, the Lions can hang with the NFL’s best.
In Week’s 2 and 3 the Lions eked out victories against both the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles—two teams that many had as playoff teams in 2019. While they did lose in Week 4, they forced Patrick Mahomes into the worst game of his career and were inches away from victory.
Not many outside of Detroit fans expected this. They were scattered throughout the 20s in virtually every preseason ranking—including Pride of Detroit’s where they started the year at 22—and were seen as a playoff longshot at best.
A quarter of the way through the season, this team looks like much more than a playoff long shot. They look like one of the favorites in an NFC North that they have never before won. They look like a team that can earn the playoff win that has eluded them for the last two decades. This team looks like they could compete for a Super Bowl if a few balls bounce the right way.
Detroit has gotten through the hardest stretch of their schedule with a winning record. While there are no off weeks in the NFL—except the bye, obviously—the Lions have to be confident in themselves now more than ever as they head into the usually-tough annual game at Lambeau.
A win against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau would solidify Detroit as the NFC North favorite and put them in a position that many fans may never have seen their team in before. No longer are the Lions the scrappy underdog team waiting for a few breaks to go their way, praying, pleading for victory.
If the Lions defeat the Packers they will solidify themselves as clear favorites. Detroit would be the team to fear in the NFC North. A division that features Aaron Rodgers, Khalil Mack and Dalvin Cook would feature Matthew Stafford as the one with the target on his back.
Detroit has not won anything yet, but things feel different this season. The early wins are not empty and there is reason to believe that this season should only get better as the season goes on. Stafford will get back to full health soon. The defensive line will inevitably show all of the talent that they have on paper. Darius Slay will come back, Danny Amendola will come back.
There have been other good Lions teams in recent history, but they always had a fatal flaw to them. The 2011 team had a horrible secondary and was too reliant on a young Stafford to carry them. The 2014 team had issues in the defensive backfield as well. The 2016 team felt like a fluke, and as fun as that year was, their failure and eventual collapse felt destined.
Detroit and Green Bay have played many classic matchups in recent history. Many of those came in Week 17 with a division title on the line, and every time the Packers came out on top. The Lions have a chance to change the narrative surrounding the team out of the bye week, though. A win puts them firmly in the driver's seat in the league's most talented division and will put anyone who was not already on notice.
This does not feel like the stand-out, early-season Detroit Lions teams of years past. This feels like a team that could beat anyone. This is a team to watch out for.