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).
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.
Doesn't matter if you have one ass cheek and three toes. Hard Knocks was wild, man.— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) August 10, 2022
My review: https://t.co/1PAx9bPS0F
And @BenjaminSRaven joined me for a special Hard Knocks edition of the podcast, featuring a lot of Dan Campbell and Jamaal Williams: https://t.co/B1YYShKeym pic.twitter.com/3FMRHFK4vj
- Richard Silva of the Detroit News takes a look at undrafted rookie Obinna Eze and his unusual path to the NFL.
Lions' offensive tackle Obinna Eze hasn't been back home to Nigeria since 2015, and he'd be lying if he said it hasn't been tough— Richard Silva (@Rich_Silva18) August 9, 2022
That said, he's focused on making the most of his opportunity here in Detroithttps://t.co/kdVKik5qYG
- 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.
Former Michigan football star Devin Gardner will serve as an analyst for the Detroit Lions preseason broadcast team.— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) August 10, 2022
- Now that we are into the thick of training camp, Doug Kyed of PFF has one riser and one faller for each team.