The Detroit Lions have revived their season with a trio of clutch wins, and as they get set to ponder making a run down the stretch, they will have to fight off some significant ghosts to do so.
Simply put, the Lions don’t make a habit of getting to the playoffs much less winning there. As the 2022 season presses on, it’s becoming clear that the team will have to find a way to buck a major trend and end a significant drought.
Recently, Bleacher Report took a look at breaking down the biggest streaks of playoff futility in the NFL right now, and the Lions were high on the list. Their five year absence from the postseason ranked third in the longest playoff droughts going in the NFL.
Writer David Kenyon wrote about what the Lions have been through, and it’s a tradition of struggle the likes of which fans know all too well about.
“The long-suffering franchise has made the postseason in only three campaigns since 2000 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. Detroit had a bit of bad luck in 2017, missing the postseason despite a 9-7 mark—the same record that landed a bid in 2016. The ensuing years have brought a familiar, frustrating story of poor defense and roster management. Six victories is the Lions’ post-2017 peak,” he wrote.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Jets (11 years) and Broncos (six years) are both ahead of the Lions in terms of futility, though each of those franchises has tasted way more playoff success than Detroit historically.
With three wins, the Lions are back to “in the hunt” for the 2022 postseason, and reality says they will have to have a strong finish to the second half of the year in order to make a run this time around.
After their Thanksgiving date with Buffalo, the schedule does offer some advantages. The Lions play the Jaguars and Vikings in home games before going on the road to take on the Jets. Those are potentially winnable games given the teams and locales in which they will be played.
No matter what happens, the Lions are playing against some pretty tough history right now. The team will have to find a way to scratch and claw their way in the playoffs this year.
Lions Firmly in NFL Playoff Picture
While some might find the notion of the Lions being in the playoff picture funny, the truth is, the team is suddenly just two games behind seventh place and the San Francisco 49ers who have a 5-4 record.
Detroit would have to keep winning in order to leapfrog some other 4-6 teams before they could even begin to think about chasing down San Francisco. The Commanders, Falcons and 49ers are all ahead of the Lions in the standings. Right now, Detroit would own a tiebreaker over Washington and Arizona, however.
Missing the playoffs is probably a foregone conclusion for these Lions, but the fact that the team is even thinking of the conversation right now points to how hard they have battled to right the ship recently and how impressive they have been to turn their season around.
That can be true even if the Lions have a slim chance in order to break through and claim a 2022-23 playoff birth when all is said and done and reverse some negative history.
Lions Have Checkered Playoff History
The Lions have been one of the more miserable teams historically when it comes to the playoffs. Detroit hasn’t won a postseason game of any kind since 1991.
It’s not just 1991 that sticks in the collective craw of Detroit fans, however. Prior to that win, the Lions hadn’t won a playoff game since 1957. They had lost three times combined in the 1970s and 1980s. They’ve had plenty of misfortune in the playoffs as well, losing games in heartbreaking fashion and blowout fashion. Simply put, there just hasn’t been much football success in the Motor City.
Detroit last appeared in the playoffs in 2018, but quickly bowed out, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in blowout fashion 26-6. They haven’t been consistent enough through the years at both making the playoffs and also winning when they do manage to get there.
The team had hoped with Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn that they could not only makes the playoffs consistently, but is able to deliver big wins when they get there. It never happened, so the team is counting on fiery Dan Campbell to lead them over the top.
Hopes are high for Campbell, and they would be even higher if he found a way to end this ugly drought and take aim at some others in spite of all odds.