In around 48 hours, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will face off to enshrine themselves permanently in the NFL record books. The Super Bowl is both the pinnacle of the NFL and American sports. One day, we hope to see our Detroit Lions there for the first time.
Back on Tuesday, I asked a simple question: how close are the Lions to competing for the Super Bowl? Obviously, the team finished 8-2 in the final 10 games of the season and had the fifth-best overall DVOA in the NFL over that span. In other words, you could argue that the Lions were the fifth-best team in football.
So I argued that it wasn’t all that ridiculous to think the Lions are one more solid offseason away from being a true championship contender, especially when you consider the resources the Lions have entering free agency and the draft.
But what did you all think? As of Friday afternoon, that article had 90 comments on it. You all had a lot of thoughts on the topic. Let’s revisit some of the more thoughtful ones—most of which seemed to agree that the Lions were closer than one may expect.
Big.AL did a good job pointing out how the Lions competed hard with some of the “elite” teams this year, proving that they’re not that far away:
So, we’ve all seen a Lions team show up for a single season and then fall back down to earth the next. We’ve seen that at least 3 times with Stafford.
It does already feel like next year is going to be this team’s best shot at making a deep playoff run before the coaching staff is sold for parts and Campbell is left having to scrap together another impressive roster.
That said, I think a team can compete for a Super Bowl when they can consistently compete with the top teams in the league.
So let’s look at how the Lions fared against top competition in 2022!
They mostly played from behind against the Eagles, managing a respectable 3 point loss.
They lost to the Cowboys 24-6 in a game they were never in.They lost a close game to the Dolphins, another respectable loss.
They lost yet another close game to the Bills.
They whooped the Jags.
They split with the Vikings.
That’s a 2-5 record against playoff teams, with 4 of those losses coming by 4 pts or less.
186 points allowed, 191 points scored.
That shows me this is a team that is close to consistently competing with the top teams in the league.
If they can go a whole season playing defense the way they did after Thanksgiving, they can get over the hump. But just as hard I think, is going to be maintaining a top of the league offense. So while simply maintaining the caliber of play we saw late in the season should be enough to get this team into the playoffs, winning multiple games once there will require better defense, and consistent play.
Really good post here from Chim Ritchels pointing out that teams jump from mid-tier to Super Bowl competitor almost every year in the modern era:
The Eagles were 9-8 in 2021. This year they are in the Super Bowl.
The Bengals were 4-11-1 in 2020 and went to the Super Bowl the following year.
The Buccaneers were 7-9 in 2019 and went to the Super Bowl the following year (Brady helped).
The 49ers were 4-12 in 2018 and went to the Super Bowl the following year.
The Eagles went from 7-9 in 2016 to the Super Bowl the following year.
The Falcons were 8-8 in 2015 and went to the Super Bowl the following year.
The Panthers were 7-8-1 in 2014, Super Bowl the next year.
And on and on....
My point is, why not the Lions? Almost every single year a team goes from that 7 to 9 win range (sometimes worse), all the way to the Super Bowl. Why not the Lions? Almost every team needs to get some breaks to get to the Super Bowl. Look at the Eagles road to the Super Bowl this year. Two home games against the Giants and San Francisco, who didn’t even have a healthy QB left at this point. That is one easy road to the Super Bowl, but they earned it by getting the #1 seed.
If the Lions pick up where they left off (won’t be easy), then I think they have a shot to compete. They can’t afford to get off to such a slow start next season.
DrewsLions agrees with Chim but provides some good questions to ponder that could impact Detroit’s ability to compete in 2023:
I could legitimately see us being within the spectrum from a fringe team that is looking for a wild card seed to a serious Super Bowl contender next year. I think a few things will be key here:
Does the NFC remain weak or do teams like the Rams or some other previously great team take a step forward or come back into the mix? Right now, the NFC looks very weak outside of PHI and SF, but I could see other teams quickly becoming a problem with a few small fixes.
Does our defense take the next step and do we see any sophomore slumps to the Goff/Johnson-led offense? Can we duplicate the impact of the running game under Scottie? Can we continue to progress in QB pressures on defense? All questions that won’t be answered until 2023 games start getting played.
How does Flores impact Minnesota? This is great hire by them and I think the divisional race is going to be a bit harder for the Lions now. Getting a home game in the playoffs is KEY to any type of real SB run.
Can Holmes hit more home runs in what is going to end up being the most crucial draft in Lions’ history? If he does, holy hell... look out.
My gut tells me 2024 is the year, but I would not be a bit surprised if people are talking about Philly, San Fran and Detroit come January next year...
Not everyone, though, believes the Lions are that close to competing for a championship. Straw walker pointed out some key pieces championship teams have, and it’s clear the Lions are missing some of those necessary parts:
SB contenders have;
Star TE that can out muscle down the seam and make the catch.. forces the safeties to adjust
Star WR that makes the 50/50 catches and has great speed
Star RB that runs off tackle and inside runs, speed and shiftiness
Star edge rusher.. that has sacks and stops the run
Star QB.. which must have some motion, and quick release
Star OL that allows a 2.5 second release and run blocks
Star CB that is a shut down corner.
How close are the lions measured in years .. if they continue as planed .. 3 years
Even our pal Singledigit admitted that the Lions can make the jump quickly, as long as they do one thing: continue what they did in 2022.
Can the Lions make the next jump? IMO ... two things have to happen.
First: Holmes has to have another draft like his last. Not like his first ... a couple of very good players. Holmes needs to have a draft like his last ... a couple of very good players and a 3 or 4 more who are already NFL worthy.
Second: Goff needs to have a full season (sans a game or two, nobody is great all the time) like his last 8 or so games.
Unlike seasons past? I’m asking for things we’ve actually seen. Not hope to see. Holmes has shown an excellent draft class. And Goff has shown a significant string of games where he might not be top 3 or 4 ... but certainly is in the top ten of QBs.
It’s a lot to ask Holmes and Goff do it again. But at least we are asking for something they’ve recently done before. Instead of hoping they do something we haven’t seen.
There were a ton of great comments this week, including some that were so thorough and long that I couldn’t put them in here, but I would highly recommend going back to the original post and continuing the discussion.
As always, if you want to be a part of our community for daily questions like this—and upcoming interactive features with the site— sign up for an account on the site and start chatting!
And for the heck of it, here’s a poll:
How far away are the Lions from contending for a Super Bowl?
This poll is closed