If you’re still in the afterglow of the Detroit Lions’ divisional title from this weekend, I don’t blame you. Putting to bed a 30-year drought and earning this team’s first banner of the 2000s is an accomplishment worth celebrating for more than just a day or two. Make no mistake about it, it’s a monumental occasion for Lions fans. Just ask coach Dan Campbell.
“Whenever you do something like what we just did, it’s special,” Campbell said in his postgame celebration speech to the team. “It don’t matter, man. And it don’t matter how many you win in a row, they’re special. But I can tell you this, when you’re part of the organization and it’s been 30 years since we won a fucking championship, it’s special, man.”
As Lions fans, we’ve been through a lot. Lean years are all we know. And for some of the younger fans of this team, Sunday was quite literally the pinnacle of their fandom.
Which begs today’s Question of the Day:
Is this the best Detroit Lions team of your lifetime?
My answer: Obviously, your answer will depend on your age, but as a 37-year-old fan, I think you could make a compelling case.
Some will obviously be hesitant to say anything until we see what this team can do in the playoffs, and that’s fair. If Detroit loses in the first round at home, some will consider this team a failure from their preseason expectations. However, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to judge a team by their performance in one game. A single-game elimination tournament is not always the best way to determine the “best” team.
Obviously, I was alive during the Lions’ 1991 season when they made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game—the only time in franchise history they’ve made it that far. Is this team better than that? It’s hard to say. I was five at the time, and don’t really have a good grasp of how good that team was. But looking back at some statistics, we can get a good overview of how good that team was.
The 1991 Lions finished 12-4, with only two teams boasting a better record than them. The current Lions are 11-4, with only one team having a better record.
The ‘91 Lions had a point differential of +44, ranking eighth in the NFL. Today’s Lions are +57, which ranks seventh in the NFL.
If you’re into DVOA, the ‘91 Lions were only 13th (of 28 teams) with an overall DVOA of 2.9% (0% is average). Today’s Lions (prior to MNF results) are seventh in DVOA at 14.6%.
That said, that historic Lions team was a little more balanced, ranking ninth in points scored and 11th in points allowed. This Lions team ranks fourth in points scored and 24th in points allowed.
I think it’s fair to say these teams are pretty even.
But there’s one more Lions team that belongs in this discussion, in my opinion: the 2014 Detroit Lions. Though they went 11-5 and frustratingly lost their playoff game in Dallas, this is the best Lions team I have a clear recollection of (prior to this year). They were led by a dominant defense that ranked third in DVOA and third in points allowed. While the offense was conservative, with weapons like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Reggie Bush, they could be explosive at times.
But overall, that team ranked just 13th in DVOA (+5.4%) and 13th in point differential (+39).
So, yes, I think a compelling argument could be made that the 2023 Lions team is the best in my lifetime. The defense may have some major flaws, but in the era of offensive football, the Lions have one of the most lethal attacks in football, and that can take a team far.
Where do you think the 2023 Lions stack up historically for this franchise? Scroll down to the comment section and share your thoughts.