Surging Detroit Lions are the talk of the NFL: ‘Nobody wants to play ’em’

Detroit Free Press

The more the Detroit Lions win, the more they become one of the top storylines in the NFL.

That was the case Monday morning after their thrilling 20-17 win Sunday over the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Lions (7-7) have roared back with three straight wins and have won six of seven to climb firmly into the NFC playoff race. They have a 41% chance to make the postseason, according to, and are favored over Washington (35%) and Seattle (30%) to grab one of the final two spots. The New York Giants (8-5-1) have an 87% chance of making the playoffs after their 20-12 road win over Washington on Sunday night.

ESPN’s “Get Up” show spent a segment Monday on the Lions’ turnaround and provided their analysis on how this has happened, who gets the credit and why they’re a dangerous team moving forward.

More:The anatomy of an amazing, magical Detroit Lions victory: Give them all credit

“Nobody wants to play ’em,” Rex Ryan, the former longtime NFL coach, said. “I’m tellin’ you that right now. How many teams 1-6 they end up folding, now we’re punting on the season, fire the coach. Not one time did that team flinch. Why? Because they’re locked in it together: head coach, general manager, all that. They have a direction for this football team. And all a year before expected to. This team is playing their butts off. They don’t let go of the rope. Their defense, all of a sudden yeah they struggled all year, right now they have 98 (quarterback) pressures in the last seven games, so they’re playing great. The offense is a joke, this offense is a phenomenal offense.”

What stands out to known Lions cheerleader and former quarterback Dan Orlovsky is his belief the Lions are not scared of any moment. And he applauded the coaching staff while focusing on two things he likes offensively.

“Number one, in their pass game, their receivers are as detailed as anybody in the NFL,” he said. “They are coached phenomenally well.”

“Oh say it again,” Ryan interjected. “(Receivers coach Antwaan) Randle El.”

“Their quarterback, Jared Goff, does one thing very good,” Orlvosky continued. “He gets through progressions, one to two to three. So everything is built off of that. They marry things in their offense as well as anybody. And we talk about the Jets defense, as we should they’re great. That front seven for Detroit dominated the football game yesterday.”

More:Lions secret to dealing with new expectations? Remembering this famous phrase

Former NFL safety Ryan Clark then articulated what all Lions fans can understand and have felt for years. Except now, for once, the Lions are getting the breaks and upholding momentum.

“Bad football teams find ways to lose games and we’ve seen that from the Detroit Lions, especially in recent history. But when you watch this team down the stretch of this season, they’re finding ways to win games. Whether it’s the late throw to Penei Sewell (last week), or if it’s the ‘Y-High’ (the play call for Brock Wright’s winning touchdown Sunday), if it’s coming up with a defensive stop and turnovers in the red zone against Green Bay. They are a team now that has come together and learned how to play complementary football. And for all the times that you laugh at Dan Campbell and you think he’s quirky, this team has taken on his personality of fighting every week, of being a tough, physical minded football team and a team that now, even emotionally and mentally, when they get in those late-game moments, believe that they can win, and that belief is the start.”

Even better: The Lions can make the playoffs and still get a top 5 draft pick this April. The Lions own the Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick in 2023, you are surely aware by now, and it sits fifth overall with the Rams (4-9) entering Lambeau Field vs. Green Bay on Monday Night Football. Absolutely incredible.

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN “First Take” said everyone should be rooting for the Lions to make the playoffs, and that Dan Campbell should be in NFL coach of the year conversation.

The Lions have a juicy schedule in the final three weeks, facing all losing teams: At Carolina (5-9) this Saturday, home Chicago (5-9) on New Year’s Day, at Green Bay (5-8 entering Monday) in Week 18.

Meanwhile, it was the Jets fans who were left questioning their players and coaches after a third straight loss, which dropped them a game out of the AFC playoffs.

“Get Up” host Mike Greenberg — noted Jets fan — ripped into Jets coach Robert Saleh for his bizarre clock management at the end of the game, when Saleh — a Dearborn native who interviewed for the Lions’ head coach position in 2021 and could have been their head man — neglected to use all three of his timeouts in the final minute. He called only two, leaving the Jets with 1 second left on first down kicking a tying 58-yard field goal. The kick missed. The Lions celebrated.

The coach blew it at the end. That is how the Jets lost yesterday,” Greenberg passionately lamented.

More:Dan Campbell, Robert Saleh were up for the same job. Did Detroit Lions hire the right one?

Best thing I saw

When your fans are wearing your right tackle’s jersey, and wearing it out in public, you know things are going right.

Here’s Lions fan Matt Marvin pregame at MetLife Stadium wearing a Penei Sewell jersey and pass setting while his wife tries to sack an imaginary quarterback.

More:Detroit Lions grades: Sterling defensive effort from front seven brings win over Jets

Gold. Good technique here from Matt — who played football at Stonehill College so no surprise — but let’s be honest: Wifey did not get a good jump off the snap as she tried to run the loop around hubby. She needs more reps.

As they say in football, low man wins. This clip is a joy to the world. And, right now, so are the Lions.

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