There is nothing like a Detroit Lions fan in August. It’s really a beautiful thing. Despite the horrid history of the franchise, both recent and distant, a Lions fan is August remains one of the most optimistic beings in existence. The excitement of an active offseason and the hope that each new season brings allows us all to be happy, joyful and eager for the upcoming season, no matter how irrational those feelings may be. And, to be clear, I am very much including myself in this group.
But for Lions fans, reality comes down hard and it comes down quickly. Detroit’s Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears may not doom the entire season. Heck, we may look back on it as a small bump in the road on the way to a surprisingly successful season. But there aren’t many that are buying it. Sunday felt all too familiar to anyone who has watched a recent Lions game, and that could mean more pain is on the horizon.
So it should come as no surprise that all the optimism that Lions fans came into the season with this year has almost completely vanished after their Week 1 27-24 loss to the Bears.
Entering Week 1, 77 percent of Lions fans in our “Reacts” survey pool were confident in the team’s direction. A revamped defense, a couple of good draft picks, and a healthy quarterback had many believing Detroit could seriously compete for the division this year. Now that number sits at just 20 percent, nearly as low as the confidence at the end of Detroit’s disastrous 3-12-1 season last year (14 percent).
Lions fans’ 57 percent decline in Week 1 was the second-biggest drop in the NFL, just barely behind the New York Jets, who fell from 75 percent confidence to just 16 after their 27-17 loss to the Bills.
Of course, the Lions weren’t the only NFC North team to suffer an embarrassing loss in Week 1. The Minnesota Vikings were flattened by the Packers on Sunday, leading fan confidence to drop from 88 to 43 percent (-45%).
A win over the Packers in Week 2 could gain a ton of faith back in this regime. Green Bay looks like a legit opponent, and a win would put Detroit right back into the divisional race.
In fact, the 2019 season started out almost identically to that exact scenario, and look what it did to fan confidence after their disappointing Week 1 tie was redeemed by a big Week 2 win over the Chargers:
And even if you go back to 2018, the story was similar. Detroit started out 0-2 after an embarrassing opener against the Jets and a close loss in San Francisco. However, they went on to win three of their next four, including victories over the Packers and Patriots. And fans were starting to truly believe in this regime.
So maybe this team has a few surprises in them just around the corner. Understandably so, fans may be more skeptical after the way the last two seasons ended, but the point is, the fate of this team has not been decided after just one game.