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Notes: Where do the Detroit Lions fall in ‘dynasty rankings’?

Once upon a time, the Detroit Lions were a dynasty. How does their history rank among all NFL franchises?

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Detroit Lions Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images

Football Outsiders frequently posts really interesting articles, and the latest from Bryan Knowles is no exception. The staff writer compiled the dynasty, anti-dynasty, heartbreak, and mediocrity analysis they’ve done to evaluate the historic success of each franchise and how many stretches of years could count as dynasties.

The team with the most recent “dynasty” result was the New Orleans Saints, powered by two outstanding blocks of years with Drew Brees at the helm. What kind of franchise information is in the article? Here’s a quick description given by Knowles:

So, for everyone’s convenience, we’re putting together this Total Dynasty List: a quick look at all 32 teams and their historic eras of greatness, putridity, and everything in between. If you want to know exactly how often the Packers have been dynastic or just how frequently the Buccaneers have been terrible, it’s now all in one place for your reading pleasure.

In case you’re wondering how they determined which years get labels, there are links to other articles at Football Outsiders near the top of this one explaining the criteria for each category.

Now, given the Detroit Lions have not actually won a playoff game in forever, and the fact we need to go back more than six decades to find a championship, it should come as no surprise to Lions fans that the team’s Total Dynasty List result is pretty awful. Knowles’ lead sentence for the team’s section in the article is: “Three years of being really good in the 1950s and nothing to show from it since.” That pretty much sums it up!

What’s truly depressing as a Lions fan is to look at the stretches of years that Saint Barry played for the team. Drafted at the tail-end of an anti-dynasty (meaning a stretch of terrible doormat years rather than a stretch of dominant years), by Football Outsiders’ categories Barry Sanders played on mediocre teams in the mid-to-late 1990s and then a huge stretch of terrible anti-dynasty teams that didn’t end until after the fun 2014 season when he was already long retired. Somehow, Jim Caldwell pulled the franchise back up to mediocrity but was fired at the end of 2017.

We all know what happened next.

Can the new leadership of Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes once again lift the Lions back to mediocrity? Should we worry about it going in the other direction, or do we dare to dream of the Lions winning enough to go beyond mere mediocrity? It’ll be really interesting to see how the team grows in this second year under new management. But now, let’s move on to the rest of your weekend Notes:

  • From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Carter Chapley, here is field position optimization specialist Jack Fox at the Cardinals’ home stadium. Chapley’s note explains why this happened: Ladue Horton Watkins High School is in St. Louis.

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