Detroit Lions: Life after Four Wins
After starting the season 0-4, the Lions put together four straight wins to end the season. It's been a long time since the Lions finished the season on a four-game winning streak, fifteen years to be exact. In fact, the Lions have ended the season with at least four straight wins only seven times in their 81-year history. So, how have those previous Lions teams fared after finishing 4-0 (or better)?
Let's take a look:
The first time was in 1944, when the team finished with five straight wins after starting 1-3-1; they ended up tied for second in the division. While they still finished second in 1945 and didn't make the playoffs, they finished the season 7-3 with just one more win than the previous year
Led by Bobby Layne, The 1953 Lions finished the season with six wins in a row, an overall record of 10-2 and won their third NFL Championship. After that, they finished 1954 with a lower record of 9-2-1 and first place in the division. They went back to the NFL Championship but lost in a blowout against the Browns
In 1960, the only previous year where the Lions ended the season with exactly four straight wins and had an overall record of 7-5. They improved on their record in 1961 to finish 8-5-1 and won the Playoff Bowl for the second consecutive time
Will the Lions improve on their 6-10 record next season?
Ten years later, the Lions won their last five games in 1970 to finish the season 10-4 and lost in the Wild Card round. However, they failed to qualify for the playoffs in 1971 and ended up with a record of 7-6-1
The Lions won their last five games again in 1989 in a disappointing 7-9 season. Once again, they did not improve the next year and went 6-10.
In 1991, when they won their last playoff game, the Lions won their last six on their way to a 12-4 record—a record they have failed to match since. Continuing the downward trend, the Lions won seven less games the next year and did not make the playoffs with a 5-11 record
1995 was the last year the Lions won at least four in a row when they won their last seven games and a 10-6 overall record. In 1996, the Lions missed the playoffs for the first time in four years with a 5-11 record and fifth place in the division
As you can tell, after ending the season on a high note, the next year's Lions failed to meet expectations. The first year being the exception; after that, it all went downhill from there.
What does this all mean?
Mostly that the number of wins a team has at the end of the season has no bearing on future success. If the 2011 Lions want to improve on a 6-10 record, they will have to work for it. They will need their star players to remain healthy. And of course, they will need to use this year's draft and free agency to bring in players who will make a difference.
This will be the real test, Mayhew and company will not have someone like Suh to fall into their laps. Will they improve, and ultimately contend for the playoffs? There's only one way to find out, and I am definitely looking forward to it.
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