This is not my argument. No, this is what Michael David Smith is saying in the Wall Street Journal (and since I am a Lions fan, I tend to agree). Here is what Smith had to say:
Competitive week in and week out, the Lions keep losing close games. On Sunday in Buffalo, Detroit failed on a two-point conversion with 14 seconds remaining and lost, 14-12. That was the Lions’ second two-point loss, and they’ve also dropped two games by three points, one by five and one by eight. The most lopsided of their seven losses was by 14 points, and they’ve won by 12 and 38. Add it all up, and the 2-7 Lions have actually outscored their opponents this season, 215 to 202.
Never in NFL history has a team that outscored its opponents had such a bad record.
But there’s good news: Even if the Lions’ record doesn’t look like improvement, the team is better than it was the past two years, when it went a combined 2-30 and was outscored by more than 15 points a game. Better yet, their point differential may be a sign of good things to come, as teams that lose despite outscoring the opposition tend to improve the next year. Across a full season, the 4-10 Cincinnati Bengals of 1971 had the worst record among teams with a positive point differential; in 1972 Cincinnati improved to 8-6. Likewise, the 2008 Green Bay Packers went 6-10 despite outscoring their opponents by 39; in 2009, the Packers finished 11-5.
The Lions’ improvement this year has snuck up on the oddsmakers, who keep installing Detroit as a big underdog. The team is 7-2 against the spread, tied for the best in the NFL.
By the way… the Lions SRS rating (offered at Pro Football Reference.com) is currently 3.0. I do not think a team has ever posted an SRS score this high and had a record that was this bad. And so I still think – even after the Lions lost to the Bills – that the Lions are “good” (and yes, that is probably because this is my team!!).