I was thinking through the Lions schedule, and I stumbled onto an almost annual mystery of ‘who’d they beat’ or the statement that ‘they haven’t beaten anyone.’
Based on present and future context – how the opponent played at the time AND how they improved or regressed – regardless of outcome I want to rank the Lions quality of performance in their 13 games thus far.
1. Lions (4-3) vs. Cowboys (4-3), win 31-30. Unstoppable Calvin, savvy Stafford, into the bye was momentum and confidence.
2. Lions (0-0) vs. Vikings (0-0), win 34-24. One big run by AD, then it’s balanced offense and stifling defense.
3. Lions (3-1) at Packers (1-2), loss 22-9. On the road, w/o Calvin, and having not won at Lambeau since Barry, Rodgers didn’t carve them up and Detroit hung in.
4. Lions (3-2) at Browns (3-2), win 31-17. On the road after GB loss with 17 fourth quarter points and see that Durham CAN contribute (8 catches 83 yards).
5. Lions (4-2) vs. Bengals (4-2), loss 27-24. A Green vs. Calvin showcase before the Bengals lost their best defensive player, Geno Atkins, and a last second 54 yard FG by Mike Nugent grabs a win for Cincy.
6. Lions (1-0) at Cardinals (0-1), loss 25-21. As I suspected, the Cardinals, now at a modest 9-5, were better than most expected to be. Stout defense, better QB play than last year, and an overlooked, but exceptional head coach.
7. Lions (2-1) vs. Bears (3-0), win 40-32. Lions pick Cutler 3 times, and Reggie Bush shows that his talents are for real and mesh perfectly with the Lions offense.
8. Lions (1-1) at Redskins (0-2), win 27-20. Decades old monkey off the back, but the Washington defense was as porous as it’d shown the prior weeks, and throughout the rest of the year.
9. Lions (6-5) vs. Packers (5-5-1), win 40-10. Can’t rank this too high. Losses to the Steelers and Bucs preceding it and you’ve got a fanbase on the fence of confidence, with lots of ‘noise’ and doubt leading up to the game. Vegas nailed this one, as Lions were huge favorites.
10. Lions (7-5) at Eagles (7-5), loss 34-20. The holes in the 2nd half for McCoy were enormous and the angles to tackle him were putrid. Still, this is probably still more competitive if not for a freak snow storm. Thew weather assuages many of my judgments that could come from this game. Other than maybe, when it snows Jeremy Ross is Devin Hester.
11. Lions (5-3) at Bears (5-3), win 21-19. Thank you Marc Trestman for sticking with an injured Jay Cutler too long.
12. Lions (6-3) at Steelers (3-6), loss 37-27. Off a bye, which they entered on a high, on the road to a Steeler team steadying the ship. Questionable coaching didn’t help matters with the fake FG run. EDIT. Off the game AFTER the bye.
13. Lions (6-4) vs. Buccaneers (2-8), loss 24-21. Let down type loss to the Steelers the week prior, back home against an improving and less tumult filled Bucs team and a cadre of crushing mistakes.