If the Seattle Seahawks are going to have any shot at reaching their third Super Bowl in the last four years, at least they were gifted the Detroit Lions at home in round one. No offense to the Lions, but they look terrible right now — even moreso than the Seahawks — and seem to have little chance at a championship this year.
Okay, that does seem offensive. That “no offense” I started with was a total lie. Sorry Detroit. But I have good reasons for this and they aren’t your fault.
With quarterback Matthew Stafford having an MVP-type season midway through the year, leading the league with eight game-winning drives and fourth quarter comebacks, the Lions did look like a dangerous playoff team. But in a Week 14 win over the Chicago Bears (they barely squeaked by the 3-13 Bears, 20-17), Stafford hurt the middle finger on his throwing hand. He hurt it immensely. Torn ligaments and a dislocated joint. Early speculation was because it was a middle finger and not an “edge” finger like a thumb or pointer, it wouldn’t affect his throwing much.
Stats say otherwise.
Detroit was 9-4 after that win over Chicago. They are 0-3 since. Stafford had thrown 21 touchdowns and five interceptions going into the Bears game, he had a passer rating of 100.5, and was completing 67.2% of his passes with 7.4 yards per attempt. He injured his finger and returned to the game, throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Since and including that Bears game, Stafford has three touchdowns, five interceptions, a rating of 74.1, 60.2% completions, and 6.8 Y/A.
Without Stafford the Lions are ... well, we know what they are. Without Stafford, the Lions are arguably a 1-15 team. He led them to eight comeback wins. They have only nine wins total. They were not a team built on a great defense like they were as a playoff team two years ago. This Detroit team was 27th in DVOA before losing to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. They have the worst defense in the NFL, per DVOA. Star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has not been anything like a star this season, recording just two sacks. Linebacker DeAndre Levy is still trying to get up to speed after missing basically all of last season and most of this season. The number of Lions who are going to the Pro Bowl this season:
Maybe that’s enough motivation for Detroit to upset the Seahawks (Seattle clearly isn’t a team to be feared after barely getting by the 2-14 San Francisco 49ers on Sunday) and maybe this band of “No Pro Bowl Misfits” will become the “Super Bowl Misfits” but it’s an uphill battle for the Lions because they are Matthew Stafford and he’s just not the same Matthew Stafford right now. He’s also said that his finger won’t be getting any better for the postseason.
They will need another heroic performance from him on Saturday in order to get past the Seahawks. Or they’ll just need to join the NFC West, in which case it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, you will probably beat the Seahawks.