Last season, the Lions finished second in the NFC North with a 10-6 record and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They lost 45-28 to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, but it was a significant step forward for a team that had just eight wins in the previous three years.
However, this season they have taken a big step back.
Fourteen games into the season, the Lions (4-10) find themselves tied with the Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) for last place in the NFC. They are currently riding a six-game losing streak. With that said, can the Lions climb out of the basement, or will their losing streak continue through the final two weeks?
Considering their injury situation and how poorly they've performed lately, the Lions would be hard-pressed to beat any team in the NFL.
Detroit lost 38-10 to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, a team that had lost nine straight games. The Cardinals won despite rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley throwing for just 104 yards and an interception. Matthew Stafford helped the Cardinals by throwing three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
In the previous week in Green Bay, the Lions went up 14-0 early in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold on. A Stafford fumble and the defense's inability to slow down Green Bay's rushing attack led to their 22nd consecutive loss in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons are coming off a huge win against the New York Giants and will be looking to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win in Detroit. At this point, it would be a big upset if the Lions were to beat the Falcons.
In Week 7 of last season, the Lions lost 23-16 to the Falcons at Ford Field.
This season, Detroit has a 0-5 record against NFC North opponents, but will have the opportunity to end that losing streak in Week 17 against the Bears.
In Week 7 at Soldier Field, the Lions held the Bears to 13 points but were shutout until the final minute of the game, losing 13-7. That helped the Bears on the way to a 7-1 start, but they’ve since lost five of six and find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture.
At best, the Lions will finish a disappointing season at 6-10, although 5-11 or 4-12 appear to be the more likely result for Detroit in 2012.
However, the Eagles' schedule isn’t any easier. They will face the Washington Redskins and New York Giants who are both in a three-way tie with the Dallas Cowboys at 8-6 atop the NFC East. The Eagles could very well be on the way to their worst season since 1998, when they finished 3-13.
With that in mind, if the Lions and Eagles finish with the same record, the Lions do have the edge because of their win in Philadelphia in Week 6. If you’re pulling for a high draft pick, well, the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) and Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) are the only teams in the AFC with worse records than Detroit.
Regardless of how they finish, it has been a very disappointing season for the Detroit Lions and their fans.