Why NFL teams may not want to play the Detroit Lions heading into November playoff race

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions pulled off a walk-off win Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. The Free Press’ Carlos Monarrez answers three quick questions following the game: 

What did you make of this exciting comeback win?

Fact: The Lions have won three of their past four games, and all three wins have come on the road. Fact: The Lions are 3-3 and climbing the standings. Fact: The Lions can be considered playoffs contenders in November, since their next game comes Nov. 1 at home against the Indianapolis Colts. Should be a fact: The Lions are really 4-2 … if not for D’Andre Swift’s dropped pass. Sunday’s 23-22 victory is the kind of emotional, gutsy win that can carry a team. One of Matt Patricia’s favorite stories is about how the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. This game’s significance isn’t at that level, but you can be sure Patricia and his team will be able to privately reference the resilience they showed Sunday when they’re faced with future adversity.

Lions fans offer to pay Kenny Golladay’s new contract as they react to wild win ]

What does this win say about the Lions’ potential?

That’s hard to say. The Lions deserve full credit for the victory. But both teams made ill-timed physical and mental mistakes. The Falcons, however, looked a lot better than a 1-6 team and they were at home, so at least we learned the Lions can overcome their own mistakes to pull out wins. Sometimes you win convincingly, sometimes you do just enough. All the miscues — T.J. Hockenson not getting out of bounds on the final drive, Matt Prater missing a 46-yarder and Danny Amendola’s stupid unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty — make me think the Lions’ potential is limited, especially against good teams. But it’s hard to measure grit, and the Lions had plenty of that Sunday.

Does this mean you’re buying into the playoff hype?

I don’t know if the Lions will make the playoffs. And I surely am not predicting a deep postseason run. But I’m liking what I see more and more from this team. The defense still feels like it needs more playmakers, but it created a timely turnover and held a potent offense in check. Prater must recapture his usual consistency. Detroit’s offense still needs more work in the run game, and Matthew Stafford could improve his accuracy on some shorter throws. However, the Lions are building as the season goes on and the schedule softens up. I doubt they’ll be considered a juggernaut any time soon, but I don’t think many teams in the NFL would want to play them right now.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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