On Sunday, the Detroit Lions checked a lot of boxes that had gone unchecked in the Dan Campbell era. First road win. Check. First back-to-back wins. Check. First time with a winning divisional record. Check.
But despite this little hot streak in the middle of the season, there are plenty of reasons to doubt that Detroit’s win streak will continue. Their three wins this season have come against a Washington team that lost four of their first five games, the 4-6 Packers, and the 3-7 Bears.
This week, the Lions take on the 7-2 New York Giants, and while there are certainly some questions about their legitimacy, a road win over them would be huge for proving Detroit’s recent improvements could be real, sustained growth. The Lions haven’t picked up a road victory against a team a few games over .500 since beating the 5-2 Vikings in 2016 (butt-flip game).
For much of this season, many have pointed to the Giants’ sudden success—they were just 4-13 last year—as a sign, Detroit’s rebuild is behind schedule. New York is in just its first year under head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen. Their biggest key to success: performing in the clutch. All seven of New York’s wins have been by one score, and in five of those games, the Giants were tied or losing heading into the fourth quarter.
“This is a good football team that knows how to win,” Campbell said on Monday. “They don’t make mistakes. They have a good ground game. They have a good defense, and so this will be another challenge, but I feel like we’re a little better suited now than we were when we started this season. I mean we’re kind of at the point now where we’re progressing a little bit, but it’s another one, and we have another big challenge.”
A win over the Giants would prove these teams are far more close in their rebuilds than their records suggests, and would go a long way in making Lions fans believe this team is headed in the right direction.