The Detroit Lions: A Better Team Than The Oakland Raiders

Tim ParentSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2008

In any given Sunday and on every Thanksgiving Thursday, there's a good chance the Detroit Lions are going to lose. 

With three games left in the regular season against the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, and the Green Bay Packers, the Lions stand a pretty good chance of going 0-16. 

Only one other team has managed to go without a win all season: the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  After 32 years, that team appears poised to finally hand over the loser crown to the Lions of 2008. 

Lions may be the kings of the jungle but on the gridiron, the roar is but a purr.

It's not for lack of trying, though, as witnessed last Sunday when the Lions played host to the Minnesota Vikings.  Not once did the Lions commit a turnover, twice they went for it on 4th-and-1 and twice they failed, and the Vikings QB even left in the first half.  Nothing can stop this team from losing.

If you go by just their record, Detroit is the worst team this season.  By no means though are they as bad the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders are 3-10 so far this season, continuing a tradition that has seen the team secure no more than five wins in the last five seasons. 

Last Thursday, Oakland was soundly defeated by the Chargers, which allowed the loss column to hit double digits. 

Again, going by just the win-loss record, the Raiders appear a better team than the lowly Lions.

Dig a little deeper in to the numbers, though, and you get a somewhat clearer portrait.

Statistics show Detroit is averaging 16.8 points a game whereas Oakland averages only 13.8 points.  Average offensive yardage also gives Detroit the edge at 261.3 compared to Oakland's 255.6.

Defensively, Oakland is a much better team, which is why the Raiders have three wins compared to Detroit's goose egg.

It's still a little foggy, but it does allow Raider Nation to highlight the defensive rankings and the team's record and say, "Really?  Detroit is better?"

Let's put the numbers aside and level the playing field with the one game element that can not be calculated using statistics—heart.  It's the one thing every NFL team must have in order for all of this to mean something.  If you're missing that, don't even bother showing up. 

This is where Detroit manhandles Oakland.

Detroit Lions running back Rudi Johnson understands the magnitude of what this team is facing; the humility of the game and the humiliation all the Lions will feel should they go winless this season.

In a blog posted on the team's website, Johnson called it "crunch time," noting they were running out of both options and time. 

The team understands it has made many mistakes this season and yet, they still hit the gym, watch the tapes, watch the tapes again...and again, and do all they can to prepare for their next opponent.

Oakland, on the other hand, has given up. 

After a lopsided 34-7 loss to the Charges, several Raiders players could be heard laughing and kidding around in the dressing room after the game, not the kind of atmosphere one would expect when your division rivals have handed you your own backside. 

It did not go unnoticed by some players like cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha who questioned whether his teammates even gave a damn. 

Tom Cable noticed, too, but, for the most part, dismissed it.  He held a team meeting on Friday and then gave the players the rest of the weekend off instead of preparing them for the New England Patriots.

Oakland is a team that has lost its will, it's heart having stopped beating a few games back, perhaps even a few seasons back, and it's going to take a lot more than a couple of chest compressions to bring it back to life. 

Detroit, at least, looks at every game as a challenge. Every game is a chance to get out of the dungeon and leave the loser crown in the hands of the '76 Bucs. 

Even if they don't win this season, the players should be comforted by the fact that they at least they tried their very best, which is more than can be said for the Oakland Raiders.