Detroit Lions: The Best Playoff Team That Wasn't?

Steve ByerlyCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions looks on while playing the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 20-13.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As the 2010 season has come to its conclusion and the playoff schedule presents itself, a lot of discussion is taking place in blogs and on talk radio asking which team(s) was the odd man out.

The question comes up every year.

If this injury hadn’t happened or that tipped ball had fallen one way instead of the other, one team would have been in replacing another. As an avid follower of the NFL from California, I feel like I am alone on an island with my belief that the Detroit Lions are the best team staying home this postseason.

Oh, I realize more folks will disagree with me than not but consider this: The Lions were in 15 of 16 games this season. They were two plays away from beating the NFC North Champion Bears twice (most fans believe they DID win the first contest when Calvin Johnson’s obvious touchdown was disallowed due to a rule that is under review as a result).

They continued to improve week by week all season long, in spite of critical injuries at the quarterback position (leaving them with a third string signal caller in a number of games).

Turf toe took away dynamic halfback Jahvid Best after the back scored four touchdowns in only his first two games of the campaign.

A defense anchored by strong man, and in my opinion the defensive rookie of the year, Ndamukong Suh was one of the most improved units in the 2010 season.

The Lions closed the season with four consecutive victories including a win over playoff bound Green Bay and another which ultimately knocked Tampa Bay out of the big dance.

And last?

As a California resident that follows all NFL games as opposed to looking at the NFL through the myopic blinders of being the fan of a local team, I believe that the coaching staff led by Jim Schwartz, Gunther Cunningham and Scott Linehan is among the very best units league wide.

As I remarked earlier, I know there will be many that disagree with this opinion but I truly believe that 2011 will prove me right.