It seems a little weird that a team who finished in fourth place by 2.5 games should have much optimism heading into 2022, but the Detroit Lions are in a unique spot. A 3-3 final stretch proved that this team is capable of finding results, and though expectations were very low for the new coaching staff and depleted roster, most fans and analysts agree that the Lions outperformed what many thought coming into the year.
This trend is stark compared to some of the other NFC North members. Both the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears fired both their general managers and head coaches, meaning next season will at least have some element of rebuilding for each. And though the Green Bay Packers earned the top seed in the NFC, they are just one Aaron Rodgers saga away from having the most drama of all in the offseason.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Can the Lions take advantage of NFC North turmoil?
My answer: This is an extremely subjective question, but there are definitely some objective measures. Detroit finished fourth by a decent clip and won just two division games this season. The goal, at the very least, should be to improve on both accounts. Even with the changes at the top, the Vikings are still a formidable opponent, but the Lions did manage to take a game from them this December with a depleted squad, and the talent gap between them should be smaller next season.
The best opportunity to leap someone would be the Bears, who were far from impressive in 2021. The Lions lost both contests against Chicago this season, but a good offseason could see the balance between these two teams flip. Plus, one team enters the draft with a pair of first rounders while the other traded away what became the seventh-overall pick. Perhaps “taking advantage” is a strong phrase, but Detroit can absolutely enter next year with the intent of avoiding another last-place finish.