The Lions are about to do something they never did under Matt Patricia or had done in the Dan Campbell era until now: play meaningful games in December.
Even after losing to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, Campbell’s squad, standing in at 4-7, still has a slim shot at making the playoffs in 2022.
Detroit is just two games behind in the loss column of the Washington Commanders, which are currently the No. 7 seed in the NFC. Additionally, the Lions hold the tie-breaker over the Commanders, as the result of beating Washington in Week 2 this season.
While it’s not much of a chance, it still has several members of the Lions excited, including center Frank Ragnow.
Ragnow was drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and since then, has never been part of a winning football team. In fact, in that span of time (and counting the first 11 games of this season), Detroit has gone a dismal 21-53-2, with the team’s best record during Ragnow’s tenure having come back in 2018 (6-10).
“I don’t think I’ve experienced it,” Ragnow told reporters Monday. “It’s not over, right? We’re still in this thing, and to be able to say that, it’s pretty cool.”
Safety Mike Hughes, like Ragnow, is looking forward to making the most of the opportunity that lies ahead for Detroit to make a run at the postseason.
“The way I look at it, man, it’s the NFL,” Hughes said. “Any time you have an opportunity to step on that field, I feel like you have to take full advantage. There’s a lot of guys sitting at home, on their couch right now, wishing they could be out there. Nonetheless, the record and the goals that we maybe didn’t reach that we wanted to, all that aside, man, I just, like I said, the way I look at it, it’s just an opportunity to show the world what we can do, and never take anything for granted being out there.”
If Hughes & Co. are going to keep their slim chances of making the postseason alive, they’re going to have to win as many games as possible over the course of the next six weeks.
Up next for the Lions is a Week 13 matchup with the 4-7 Jacksonville Jaguars, which are coming off a surprising, 28-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
In the aforementioned Week 12 tilt for Jacksonville, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence connected with former Lions wideout Marvin Jones Jr. for a touchdown, with 0:14 to go. And, then with Jacksonville trailing by one, 27-26, first-year Jags head coach Doug Pederson opted to leave his offense on the field to go for two. Lawrence proceeded to find wide receiver Zay Jones in the end zone for the successful two-point conversion attempt, winning the game for Jacksonville.
Campbell understands that a “hungry” Jaguars team awaits the Lions this Sunday.
“Our whole focus has got to be on this team that’s right in front of us, right now, and understand what’s walking in here,” Campbell said. “It’s very much a mirror image of us, as far as they’re starting back over a little bit, (with a) new coach.
“…And so, it’s a hungry team. And, they’ve got a ton of talent on top of that, and they just came away with probably their best win they’ve had all season. And so, we have to understand what’s going to be coming into Ford Field on Sunday. If we don’t, then we don’t have a chance. But, as long as we do and we continue to improve — because I do feel like we’ve improved over the last four weeks, we have to improve again, even a little bit more. If we do that, then you like our odds. I like our odds.”