As I sit here writing this, a lifer for a team that had only given me hope for success on a few occasions in my 40 years of fandom, things feel different. My team, the Detroit Lions, coming off of a hard-fought divisional round victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are one game away from the Super Bowl. It almost doesn’t even register, it’s so surreal. Many other fandoms experience this time regularly but not us, not the One Pride.
But that’s changing…
When you look at these teams by the stats, it would appear Detroit has the more high-powered offense but San Fran has Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. But Detroit has Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery, Sam LaPorta, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Both teams have quarterbacks with playoff experience, and Detroit had more passing and rushing attempts this season (somehow). So you’d like to think the advantage leans to Detroit.
On Defense, the 49ers give up a higher completion percentage (66%) than Detroit (63%) BUT we know the Lions do love to give teams top receivers career days here recently. The Lions have given up 8 more touchdowns than the 49ers (28 to just 20), and the 49ers have more interceptions and sacks than the Lions. So you’d think the advantage leans to the 49ers.
In the end, I think this game will be hard fought, I think home-field advantage will be a real thing (though I know this year Lions fans have been packing opposing stadiums. I won’t bet against my Lions, and even though the 49ers are well-coached and well-prepared, I still pick my Lions to win 28-24.
So back to what’s changing for the Detroit Lions…
Ownership changed, and incoming Sheila Ford-Hamp was tired of this team losing, and even in the face of criticism, she made a bold move pairing 1st time GM Brad Holmes and 1st time (full-time) head coach Dan Campbell, she picked leaders to the lead young men. She allowed them to make big moves, trading loved players and making any moves needed to turn this team around.
Brad and Dan, who appear to be in lockstep with how they wanted to build this roster, brought in guys who love the game and are tough, “gritty” football players. It started in year one, and Penei Sewell set the tone for what this team has become. And it doesn’t stop there, nearly all of the players drafted by this regime have played a meaningful role in this team’s success in 2023. Being a Lions fan as long as I have, I don’t know that in three years I’ve seen this many players have meaningful roles…EVER. Even when they’ve taken risks, it’s been calculated (Levi Onwuzurike) and he’s still getting worked into the rotation along the defensive line.
What else has changed? Players want to play for Dan Campbell, and heading into the NFC championship the Lions landed Zach Ertz, another move that wouldn’t have happened to the old Lions. Let’s be honest though, outside of maybe 2014, no other Lions team was going to make it this deep into the playoffs. I’m ecstatic that this team is competing for a chance to make it to the Super Bowl, and this team will never be the same old Lions again!
Thanks for Stopping By!
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