Down 10 starters entering Week 16, the Detroit Lions were already running uphill. Then a COVID-19 situation amongst the coaching staff made staying competitive against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers an even more daunting task — but as long as they had Matthew Stafford under center, he would give them a chance to put points on the board.
Then Stafford went down with an ankle injury in the first series and the wheels came fully off.
It was clear the Buccaneers were going to put up a lot of points — we even predicted they would score 44 or more points on the Detroit Lions Breakdown podcast preview show — but losing Stafford accelerated the damage as Chase Daniel and the Lions offense failed to produce a single point.
This perfect storm of obstacles led to an expected drop to the bottom-5 in most of the power rankings.
Touchdown Wire: 28 (Previous: 26)
“The Detroit Lions, like some other teams this season, were put in an incredibly difficult position this weekend when interim head coach Darrell Bevell was ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving wide receivers coach Robert Prince to take his place Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was in the wake of a decision to fire their special teams coach after he went off script and called for a fake punt early in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans. It’s been a season in Detroit… help cannot get here soon enough.” — Mark Schofield
USA Today: 31 (Previous 30)
“After Saturday’s debacle, they’ve now allowed a league-worst 482 points. Gonna be a very extensive rebuild for the next regime.” — Nate Davis
NFL: 31 (Previous: 29)
“The Lions end another lost season looking like one of the worst teams in football. The Bucs came to Ford Field on Saturday and rolled up 34 unanswered points in the first half en route to a 47-7 win that was every bit as grisly as the final score indicates. Yes, Detroit was without multiple coaches due to COVID-19 protocols, and Matthew Stafford’s ankle injury on the team’s second possession removed any semblance of drama from the proceedings, but this felt like an NFL squad playing against an Arena Football Team owned by Bon Jovi. Instead of digging any further into this depressing performance, we’ll offer up a Random Fun Fact: The 2020 Lions are the second team in NFL history to have three different coaches function as head coach during the season. Nice … versatility?” — Dan Hanzus
ESPN: 30 (Previous: 25)
“New Year’s resolution: Get the GM/head-coaching hires right. The Lions are once again facing a major organizational change, with a new general manager and head coach expected to be hired early in 2021. Without a division title since 1993 and a playoff win since the 1991 season and with questions at literally every position other than punter, making sure Detroit finally finds the correct pairing of head coach and general manager is imperative. The Lions have at least been talking with a plethora of candidates for the general manager search, a better sign of a more comprehensive process than when the team hired Bob Quinn. — Michael Rothstein
CBS Sports: 30 (Previous 29)
“They should fire everybody who is left right now. This team is a disaster. That showing against the Bucs was as bad as it gets.” — Pete Prisco
Sports Illustrated: 31 (Previous: 28)
“This is the ‘without Matthew Stafford’ ranking. With Stafford, they’re about a dozen spots higher.” — Note: MMQB uses a rotating staff to make selections, so they will sometimes vary drastically from week to week.
Sporting News: 26 (Previous: 24)
“The Lions couldn’t fix any part of their defense and that was the reason for the quick downfall of Matt Patricia. They also need to consider some big offensive changes around D’Andre Swift and Kenny Golladay in 2021.” — Vinnie Iyer