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Monday open thread: Are the Lions the worst team in the NFL?

Are the winless Lions truly at the bottom of the league?

Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The bye week was certainly refreshing. It’s sad to say, but Detroit Lions football hasn’t been the happiest of experiences this season. From late-game heartbreaks to atrocious blowouts, the Lions have been difficult to celebrate.

With the bye almost behind us, we have jump back into a football mindset. Hopefully for Dan Campbell and his team, a week off was a good reset. For fans, we are left hoping that things will improve. The Lions sit at 0-8 with another nine games to play, and if the Lions want to avoid infamy, they will need to figure things out quickly.

However, where do they rank amongst the rest of the NFL?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Are the Lions the worst team in the NFL?

My answer: I don’t think they are.

From a record-perspective, they are the worst as the lone winless team. That being said, I think the Lions are better than their record indicates—although not by much. They are a historic field goal away from beating the Ravens. They managed to lose to the Vikings the one week their kicker decided to nail game-winners. They aren’t good, but they’ve had chances.

I can’t say the Houston Texans are much better. After opening their season with a win over the also bad Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans have dropped eight-straight to reach 1-8. Unlike the Lions, many of their losses have been brutal. Whereas the Lions have struggled to score over 20 points, the Texans have struggled to hit double digits. Of their eight losses, they scored under 10 points in five of them. This includes a shutout, a three-pointer, and a five-pointer. Blerg.

DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, also backs up the Lions, although not by a wide margin. Pending the results of Week 9, the Texans were second-last in team DVOA, last in offensive DVOA, and 23rd in defensive DVOA. The worst team by team DVOA, the Falcons, won on Sunday, so it seems likely that the Texans will “claim” the bottom spot. The Texans lost the Horri-Bowl against the Miami Dolphins this weekend, and it firmly cements them as the worst team in the AFC.

Getting Tyrod Taylor back from injured should help the Texans, but very little is working for that team. The receiving corps is Brandin Cooks and that’s about it. The run game has no consistency following the trade of Mark Ingram. The backfield is now helmed by David Johnson, Philip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead—underwhelming to say the least.

The bright spot on defense has been edge rusher Jonathan Greenard, who leads the team with 7.0 sacks. The defense has failed to keep their opponents under 20 points in eight of their nine games. The lone sub-20 game came against the lowly Dolphins this week. The Lions defense isn’t anything to write home about, but at least they held their own in a few games.

Perhaps the strongest reason why I give the edge to Detroit is coaching. For all the faults of a 0-8 team, Dan Campbell has been making good decisions. It seems like the team’s talent is what’s really lacking.

The same cannot be said for the Houston Texans. David Culley looks completely outmatched as a coach. He committed one of the worst coaching blunders I have ever seen. Against the Browns in Week 2, he declined a penalty that would have given them third-and-10. Instead, they opted for a fourth-and-2. And they punted. They turned down a third down opportunity to punt the football.

In Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, the Texans trailed 17-6 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. At the one-yard line—emphasis on one—they kicked a field goal. As you would guess, the analytics did not support this decision:

Maybe Culley is a likeable coach, à la Jim Caldwell. However, these types of decisions are not ones head coaches should be making. Campbell, in contrast, is making good decisions. He’s going for it when the analytics support it. He’s pulling out some trick plays when he knows the Lions need a spark.

Even if you think the Texans have a better roster than the Lions, I think Dan Campbell and the Lions could outcoach them to a win. We don’t get to see this matchup this year, and with the Texans slated to face the Jets and Jaguars, they may finish with more wins than Detroit. However, I think Detroit is a better team. It doesn’t mean much, sadly, but in a lost season, I’ll take whatever positives I can.

Your turn.

Poll

Are the Lions the worst team in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Yes
    (752 votes)
  • 47%
    No
    (683 votes)
1435 votes total Vote Now