The Detroit Lions are in the midst of a long—really long—season. You know the deal: zero wins, one tie, nine losses. The top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft may be the only prize for an organization that suffers week over week from a lack of talent and a dash of bad luck. But will this winless stretch come to an end? The answer is… maybe. Detroit will have a few chances to get that win over the next seven games, including these three favorable matchups.
Let’s begin with the most obvious opportunity: Week 12’s Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears. Chicago is in the midst of its own losing streak—five straight—and has a coach whose future is dangling by a fraying rope. The Lions faced Chicago in Week 4 and lost, 24-14, but that was a different Bears team. It was one that still had hope for a playoff run. Now, eight weeks later, Chicago is dealing with an injured first-round quarterback and a defense that can’t close out games. Detroit is expected to be without Jared Goff on Thursday, but that may not be a bad thing. This is the Lions’ best shot at securing a win, but it isn’t their only one.
Detroit travels to Atlanta (4-6) in Week 16 to face the suddenly struggling Falcons offense and a quarterback in Matt Ryan who’s losing the battle against Father Time. Atlanta has been outscored 68-3 over the last two games and there’s no reason to believe a rebound is coming. By the time Week 16 rolls around, the Falcons should be out of the playoff mix and, perhaps, resting injured or banged up veterans in an effort to prepare for Year 2 of their own rebuild. It could be a very winnable setup for the Lions. Pride is a powerful motivator and it’s all Detroit will be playing for in December.
The final, realistic shot for Detroit is the penultimate game of the year in Week 17’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. This one seems the least likely, however, because of quarterback Russell Wilson and his ability to win games on his own. Wilson is the kind of player who can go off at any moment, and if Seattle (who’s also struggling with just three wins in 2021) has a chance to end their year on a high note, expect Wilson to take advantage. If Detroit enters Week 17 winless, the odds they’ll end the year 0-for go way up.
No fan base wants to go winless and Detroit is no exception. But back to that whole NFL draft pick thing? If the Lions’ struggles continue, they’ll be the kings of the offseason with the No. 1 pick. They’ll possess the most valuable asset in the league that should flip into a significant upgrade in talent on the roster. And while that doesn’t completely erase the sting of a season with so few if any wins, it does provide hope for a brighter future.
For now, it’s about getting that first win for coach Dan Campbell. But time’s running out.