During week 15 of the 2010 NFL season a 3-10 Detroit Lions team took on a 8-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that was still fighting to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay was without Gerald McCoy and Quincy Black however the Detroit Lions were without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, backup quarterback Shaun Hill, linebacker Landon Johnson, and running-back Jahvid Best was hobbled by turf toe injuries on both feet.
With Tampa Bay still in the playoff hunt and the Detroit Lions playing for nothing other than pride the Lions and third string quarterback Drew Stanton were able to deal a serious blow to the Buccaneers playoff opportunities by pulling off an upset win in overtime.
This season the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off on week one of the 2011 NFL season on equal footing, both are still fighting to make the playoffs. However the loser of this game may be dead in the water and not even know it. According to stats released by both espn.com and nfl.com, since 1990 only 24% of teams that lost their first game made the playoffs. When it comes to teams losing their week one game and winning their division, only 14% of teams have been able to accomplish this feat.
So for all of the Detroit Lions fans who have been drinking the Honolulu blue kool aid all off season may be justified in yelling "same old Lions" as they jump off the bandwagon if the Lions lose. This game is as important as any other game the Lions will play this season and if Matthew Stafford fails to lead them to victory against a team Drew Stanton was able to beat then maybe, just maybe they haven't improved as much as we all think.
I'll agree that on paper this team is leaps and bounds ahead of any Detroit Lions team in recent memory however it HAS TO translate into great on the field performances or it doesn't matter.