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Monday open thread: Is winning games worth it for the Detroit Lions?

Are these wins a positive or a negative for the Lions?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions took the mantra of underdog to the bank on Sunday with an impressive victory over the Arizona Cardinals. However, do the pros of that win outweigh the cons?

As evident by the locker room celebration, the players and coaches are having a blast, and that win against the Cardinals was a much-needed point of celebration. Although the Lions had gotten their first win against the Vikings two weeks ago, this was the first game in which they truly shined from start to finish. The offense was humming despite backups at multiple positions. The defense shut down an impressive Cardinals offense headlined by the always dangerous Kyler Murray. Even the special teams rose to the occasion with Riley Patterson continuing his streak of perfection as a Lion.

The elephant in the room is their record, and while the win was important, it sends the Detroit Lions to 2-11-1. From a playoff-perspective, the win is meaningless. The Lions are already out of contention, and no amount of late-season winning streak will change that. The “2” in the Lions’ record truly matters for draft position, and that’s where the Lions have made a move.

After clinging to the first overall pick all season, the Lions have finally passed that honor to the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose loss to the Houston Texans sent them to 2-12. Houston and the New York Jets, meanwhile, sits ominously close at 3-11. The Lions sit with the second overall pick, but a continued win streak could throw them outside the top three.

For those hoping for Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, or their choice at another position, sliding down the draft board is not ideal. For all the success coaches like Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn have had with a makeshift roster, the Lions need high-end talent, and you’d be hard-pressed to say that Thibodeaux or Hutchinson don’t make the Lions better. As for the world of draft pick trades, a higher pick will always garner a heftier return, should the Lions opt for that route.

So that leaves the question about whether wins like this are good for the Lions long-term. On one hand, you have a roster playing their heart out for coaches they trust, and getting results like this victory over the Cardinals is a step in the right direction. On the other, the Lions potentially playing themselves out of a top draft spot because of meaningless games seems far from beneficial.

Where do you draw the line?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Is winning games worth it for the Lions?

My answer: I think wins like this are always worth it.

A win is a win, but not all wins are created equal. To me, this win against Arizona is the epitome of what the Lions are trying to build. This was their first game where they appeared in control the entire game. No more one quarter mirages, this was a full 60 minute showcase from the Lions. If the Lions close out the season with more wins like this, I’d be happy regardless of the consequences. It would mean they are playing to their full potential—maybe even exceeding it—and the drop in draft position would be a small price to pay. Earlier I called these “meaningless games,” but if the Lions are playing well, they aren’t meaningless. That’s something to build upon.

However, should the Lions win some ugly affairs, I would feel less confident. Take the tie versus the Steelers as an example. Had the Lions walked away with a win, how satisfied would you have felt? Sure, it would have been their first win of the season, but it was a game without many positives. The Lions couldn’t muster anything through the air. D’Andre Swift collected 130 yards, but it came on a whopping 33 carries for a modest average. The defense wasn’t particularly impressive, as Mason Rudolph largely sunk the Steelers on his own. If the Lions win some games in that fashion, I’d look less favorably on them.

If the Lions win, I want them to be good, well-rounded wins. However, I still think winning is worth it for the Lions. The reason: this upcoming draft is rich at positions of need for Detroit. Even if they miss out on Thibodeaux or Hutchinson, an edge like George Karlaftis or David Ojabo will be available. If you need secondary help, Kyle Hamilton and Derek Stingley are there. Want a receiver? There’s plenty to choose from between Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Drake London, and Chris Olave. You could snag a quarterback like Matt Corral, Malik Willis, or Kenny Pickett. That’s not even including the trade down options that might arise.

Win or lose, I think the Lions will be in a position to draft a great player. Even if they move down a few spots, wins like this are key for building a better team. Despite their record, Detroit is looking like a promising young team, and that could be enticing for future free agents. The Lions aren’t keeling over and dying. They are fighting, and as we saw on Sunday, they can win.

Your turn.

Poll

Is winning games worth it for the Detroit Lions?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    Worth it
    (1248 votes)
  • 14%
    Not worth it
    (208 votes)
1456 votes total Vote Now