ESPN Metric Comically Projects Embarrassing End to Lions’ 2022 Season

Chris Board

Getty Chris Board reacts frustratingly in a 2022 Lions game in Carolina.

Detroit Lions fans have been rejecting the concept of an ugly finish to the season as a sign of ‘same old Lions’ returning, but apparently, the computers haven’t gotten the message.

Changing the minds of a scarred fanbase is hard enough, but it seems that simulators also aren’t yet awake to the notion that the Lions are a changed team to be taken seriously in the hunt for the postseason.

ESPN and their FPI metric recently proved that once again. Trying to establish a potential roadmap for how the 2022-23 season could end, the site and analytics writer Seth Walder projected the finish for all teams the last two weeks with game simulations.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t exactly a favorable result for the Honolulu Blue and Silver. In terms of Week 17, the simulation has the Lions being dropped in frustrating 37-29 fashion by the Chicago Bears.

“The last wild-card spot remains up for grabs as the Lions stumble — Justin Fields and the Bears’ ground game drop 37 points on Detroit’s defense — while the Packers, Seahawks and Commanders all pick up wins,” Walder wrote in the analysis.

While that’s certainly bad enough, it isn’t quite as frustrating as what the simulation runs for Week 18. That game shows up as an ugly 37-10 blowout defeat to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

“The Packers’ improbable run to the postseason after a year of mostly forgettable football. Simultaneously, the Lions — who looked like they were barreling toward a wild-card berth a few weeks prior — skid to a halt with a three-game losing streak to finish the season,” Walder writes of the hypothetical game and result.

Obviously, in this situation, Detroit’s playoff hopes are toast. Losing out isn’t part of the Lions’ game plan to crack the postseason anyway, but this would be a particularly stinging end to what seemed like a promising finish to the year.

Lions fans have certainly seen similar movies play out before in real life, so those that believe this to be an accurate depiction of future events can be forgiven.

Still, there’s good news. This is only virtual reality, and actual football games on the field will still determine what happens in the end.

Those looking for good vibes ahead of another critical football weekend aren’t going to find them from ESPN, though.

ESPN Simulation Bumps Lions for Packers

If this nightmare scenario played out, the 7-10 Lions would be eliminated from the postseason. Worse yet, their biggest rivals would then slide into the playoffs in the Packers.

This simulation has Green Bay breaking through into the postseason as the seventh seed and taking on the San Fransisco 49ers, a team that has defeated them the last two seasons in the playoffs

In total, this simulation has Philadelphia as the top seed, San Francisco the second seed, Minnesota the third seed, Tampa Bay the fourth seed, Dallas the fifth seed, the Giants the sixth seed and Green Bay in the seventh and final playoff spot.

Detroit beat the Packers earlier this season 15-9, and has reason to feel good about their season finale rematch against their old foe given what played out in Week 12. During that game, the Lions forced three turnovers of Aaron Rodgers and frustrated him all day long on the defensive side.

That game was the start of Detroit’s solid 6-2 stretch to get them on the cusp of a late-season playoff push. With that in mind, the team should be confident against Green Bay.

Lions Must Lock in, Avoid the Noise

As mentioned above, the best news about this piece is it’s simply a game of projection. Simulations happen all the time, but rarely do they flawlessly predict real-world events.

Walder is quick to point out that there is just a 9% chance the NFC playoff race plays out the way this simulation describes. While that’s certainly not 0%, it’s not exactly close to 50%, or another much larger number that would indicate a better probability of these events occurring.

The challenge for Detroit? Block out noise such as this and find a way to respond dramatically against the woeful Bears in a home game. So far, that’s been the message from the team’s coaching staff after a tough 37-23 loss in Week 16.

Detroit’s still firmly alive for a playoff birth. It’s likely nobody in the building cares what ESPN computers project anyway, so it’s up to the team to prove it with a strong finish.

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