Lions’ New Putrid Run of NFC North Futility Becoming Hard To Ignore

Amani Oruwariye

Getty Amani Oruwariye diving to break up a pass in Minnesota.

The Detroit Lions have struggled in many ways the last few seasons under Matt Patricia, but perhaps the most frustrating has been their inability to beat their closest division rivals.

Once upon a time under Jim Caldwell, the Lions made a habit of beating their divisional competition. At the very least, the Lions competed hard against the NFC North and while they didn’t win the division, came close to doing so once. That’s way more than Patricia can say during his span in Detroit.

In fact, with Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, Patricia has now lost 9 games in a row against the NFC North division, which is a horrible run against the teams the Lions are directly measured against. That’s every single game played between division rivals from the start of last season until now.

Obviously, the goal for Patricia in coming to Detroit was to make sure he could defend home turf against the NFC North opposition, but Patricia’s team hasn’t even been able to do that. This season, the Lions are 0-3 against the Bears, Packers and Vikings. They will have 3 more games to right the ship, but it’s hard to imagine the team being able to pull these games out given their dismal performances head to head lately against their closest rivals.

Matt Patricia vs. NFC North Career

If there’s one thing Patricia hasn’t done during his career, it’s measure up against his closest competition in the NFC North. Patricia only has 2 NFC North wins to his credit, and both are against the Green Bay Packers. In the other games, Patricia has suffered both close losses and resounding defeats. Patricia had the chance to score big wins the last few seasons on Thanksgiving against the Bears, but in each instance, the team wilted and is still searching for a signature win head to head against the best the division has to offer.

This is perhaps Patricia’s biggest fail as Lions coach. The team needed him to be a stabilizing force that changed things in the division, but the balance of power has remained largely unaltered the last few seasons if not trended further and further away from Detroit.

Matt Patricia’s Biggest Win With Lions

If Patricia hasn’t won a big game against any of his big time rivals consistently, what has been the coach’s shining moment with the team? Obviously, that came in his first season when he knocked off the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. It was a big win at the time that only looked better as the Patriots had another solid finish to the season in winning the Super Bowl. Even still, the win has lost shine given it remains as the only example of Patricia’s team finishing a game and beating a quality opponent on the field. Otherwise, his resume is littered with wins over lower end or injury damaged teams.

Part of the reason the Lions have never managed to get their program off the ground is the fact that Patricia cannot find consistency against the teams he plays the most. If he had managed to do this, his tenure might not be looking so underwater at this point just a few years in.

Now, it seems the only question is how much worse will this divisional run of futility get. The answer is likely an unsettling one for Lions fans.

READ NEXT: Analyst Skewers Matt Patricia’s Coaching Performance


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