DETROIT -- The good news for the Detroit Lions is they are closing in on a top five draft pick for the first time since 2013. If that doesn’t sound so great, consider the reality of what the franchise has been for the past two months: an overmatched group that fights but can’t finish.
Losses at this time of year -- Detroit lost to Tampa Bay 38-17 Sunday -- can be more beneficial than wins for a team that's out of the playoffs.
Yes, Detroit continued to fight under head coach Matt Patricia with a third-string quarterback and what feels like their 40th running back. But the Lions haven’t led yet in December and it’s one thing to have that happen against a potential playoff team in Minnesota. It’s another to have it happen against a fairly porous Tampa Bay defense.
It leads, again, to questions about the future of the franchise and who should be leading it. But those are questions that likely won’t be answered for another two weeks.
While the No. 1 pick is no longer in play thanks to Cincinnati’s loss to New England, Detroit could still have a chance at the No. 2 overall pick – and with it, potentially, Ohio State star pass-rusher Chase Young or Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. Nabbing a potential future star such as Young or Brown would be more beneficial than any win Detroit would pick up over the final two weeks of the season.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The defense's start. The Lions had no chance of stopping Jameis Winston in the first half -- and that’s with Winston throwing an interception to Jahlani Tavai in the first quarter. Tampa Bay had three receivers with more yards in the first half than the Lions’ 45 passing yards -- including Breshad Perriman, who had 88 first-half yards and two touchdowns. Even without Mike Evans, Winston threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the first 20 minutes to put the game essentially out of reach.
Sell on Wes Hills: It’s a great story -- Hills coming in after being shuttled between free agency and the practice squad all season long to end up starting for the Lions on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the sixth back to start for Detroit in 2019. He scored two touchdowns in his debut, making him the all-time NFL touchdowns leader out of Slippery Rock (according to Pro Football Reference). But Hills did his scoring on 10 carries for 21 yards -- a far cry from the debut of the practice squad running back he replaced, Bo Scarbrough, who had 14 carries for 55 yards and followed it up with enough to be in the conversation for a job in 2020.
Describe the game in two words: Seven straight. The Lions have lost seven straight games and 10 of their past 11 -- the first seven-game losing streak for Detroit since it lost its final eight games of the 2012 season.