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Notes: Detroit Lions among unluckiest teams in 2021

Not that we needed much of a reminder, but the Lions were not one of the luckier teams in 2021. Just how unlucky were they? Ty Schalter of FiveThirtyEight breaks it down.

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When I think of the word “unlucky” and the Detroit Lions’ 2021 season, one memory immediately comes to mind.

Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens lined up for a 66-yard field goal, and as time expired, the kick somehow bounced off of the cross bar and went in. You could hear a pin drop in Ford Field during the moments that followed, as those in attendance sadly made their way to the exits.

Not everything was that dramatic with the 2021 Lions, but the longest field goal in league history certainly played a part in them being one of the more unlucky teams in football.

Ty Schalter of FiveThirtyEight sought out to define lucky and unlucky teams using ESPN Stats & Information Group’s win probability model as a baseline. Sixty-six of 272 regular season games fell under the category of a “coin-flip” game—with “coin-flip” games being defined as having a 60/40 probability split at some point within the last five minutes of the game.

Flip those toss-up games in favor of the Lions, and suddenly coach Dan Campbell’s first year looks a lot different than the 3-13-1 record his team ended up with.

Yes, there were a few games where the Lions weren’t competitive. Those are nearly inevitable when a team is rebuilding. But for the majority of 2021, the Lions were a tough out for opposing teams — which speaks to their resiliency as a team, and to the overall parity the NFL has achieved.

For the majority of teams, close games that are decided by a score or less are almost expected in the modern NFL. All 32 organizations have talented players, and the term “any given Sunday” has always been around for a reason. Most games are decided over a handful of plays, with some ending with a kick careening off of the crossbar.

Other kickers have even hit the goalpost AND the crossbar on the same kick (looking at you, Chicago).

You can read the full article by Schalter here.

And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:

  • If you are looking for more Hard Knocks related content, Kyle Meinke of Mlive has you covered with his review of episode one.

  • Richard Silva of the Detroit News takes a look at undrafted rookie Obinna Eze and his unusual path to the NFL.

  • Dave Birkett of the Free Press gives his thoughts regarding the first official (and unofficial — per Dan Campbell) depth chart of the year, as well as other observations from Wednesday’s practice.

  • Applebee’s is a top five restaurant in the world? According to center Frank Ragnow, this is a fact. Our Editor in Chief, Jeremy Reisman, undoubtedly sides with Ragnow here — as his affinity for mozzarella sticks knows no bounds.

  • A familiar face will be in the broadcast booth during the Lions’ preseason games, with former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner serving as an analyst.

  • Now that we are into the thick of training camp, Doug Kyed of PFF has one riser and one faller for each team.

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