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The history of the Detroit Lions vs. 10-loss seasons

Taking a look back at some of the Lions’ worst seasons in franchise history.

Detroit Lions v Cleveland Browns Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

0-10-1 is not what any Detroit Lions fans wanted, but it feels like it was expected. It’s Minnesota Vikings week, but since we’ve already learned about the history of the Lions and Vikings, let’s take a look back at all the times the Lions have lost 10 games in a season instead.

How many times?

Alright, now that half of the readers have left, let’s get going. The Lions have lost 10 games in a season 26 times in franchise history. That is a lot. For a small reference, the Packers have only done it 12 times, the Vikings have done it 10 times and the Bears have done it 17 times.

Don’t fear, though, the Lions aren’t the team do it the most though. The Arizona Cardinals have lost 10 or more games in a season 28 times. The Buccaneers have also done it 26 times as well. In total, 10 teams have lost 10 games in a season 20 or more times. So while it seems really bad, the Lions are not alone in this world.

What about 10 losses with no wins?

There have been 20 teams to start the year 0-10 in the Super Bowl era. On Thanksgiving, the Lions became only the second team to do it three times. The Lions have started 0-10 in 2001, 2008 and now 2021. The other team is the Indianapolis Colts. They did it in 1986, 1997 and 2011. If we’re talking about pre-Super Bowl era, the Lions went 0-10 in 1942 as well, but we’ll just look the other way on that one.

What’s happened after the 10th loss?

It hasn’t been all that bad for the Lions after the 10th loss. The franchise has only gone winless twice.

For the most part, the Lions wind up losing an 11th game and end it there. Of the 26 times the Lions have lost 10 games, they’ve ended the season with 11 losses. So take solace in knowing that the pain doesn’t last too long.

The turn around

It’s not so nice in this section. Of the 26th times the Lions have lost 10 games, they have followed it up with a losing record the next year 20 times. But, hey, those six times that the Lions had a winning season the next year shows you that it’s possible for a quick turnaround.

The most notable time the Lions turned a 10-loss season into something special is when the Lions went from 6-10 in 1990 to their most successful season in the Super Bowl era. In 1991, the Lions went 12-4, won a playoff game, and made it to the NFC Championship game. Maybe the Lions have a repeat of that in 2022, although I wouldn’t put any money on that.

Here’s a look at the other times the Lions turned it around after a 10-loss season:

  • 1979: 2-14 to 1980: 9-7
  • 1992: 5-11 to 1993: 10-6
  • 1996: 5-11 to 1997: 9-7
  • 1998: 5-11 to 1999: 8-8
  • 2010: 6-10 to 2011: 10-6

What will the Lions do next year?

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