Being that the Detroit Lions are one of the most tortured franchises in the history of sports, let alone the history of football, there aren’t a lot of successful teams in Detroit, making this list a little difficult to make.
As every sad Lions fan knows at this point, the Lions haven’t won a championship of any kind since 1957 and haven’t even won a playoff game since 1991, the latter of which is the second-longest streak in the NFL.
All miserable facts and statistics considered, the Detroit Lions have had a few really successful teams, so without further ado, here are the 3 best teams in Lions history.
3. 1991 (12-4)
This Lions team was the last Lions team that fans felt had a legitimate chance to actually win a playoff game, as the teams that made it in 2011, 2014, 2016 made it in as wild card teams who lost by a combined 41 points.
This was one of the deepest Detroit Lions teams in franchise history, as the roster boasted five Pro Bowlers in Hall-of-Fame running back Barry Sanders, left tackle Lomas Brown, nose tackle Jerry Ball, inside linebacker Chris Spielman and free safety Bennie Blades, who has one of the most underrated cool names in sports history.
This Lions team posted the eighth-highest point differential in the NFL with +44 and ended up trouncing the Cowboys in the opening round of the playoffs, 38-6, before getting trounced themselves by the Washington Redskins, 41-10. If they had not run into that Redskins team, many believe the Lions had a legitimate chance to win a Super Bowl next year.
2. 1953 (10-2)
In the 1950s, the Lions undoubtedly loved their finest years ever with four divisional titles and three league championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957.
Stars of those successful teams, who always ended up playing against the archrival Cleveland Browns in the championship game, included such future Pro Football Hall of Famers as quarterback Bobby Layne, running back Doak Walker, tackle-guard Lou Creekmur, and safety Jack Christiansen.
This team had a legendary pass defense, as led by Hall-of-Fame safeties in Christiansen and Yale Lary, the 1953 team only allowed their opponents to throw for 1,965 yards and forced 38 interceptions.
1. 1952 (9-3)
This 1952 team was the best of those largely successful Detroit teams of that era, as they were the team that started it all and had the best point differential of the bunch with +152, good enough for second-largest in franchise history.
While this season was nowhere near Layne’s best as a passer for the Lions from a statistical standpoint (1,999 yards, 48.4 % completion rate, and 19 touchdowns), this was his first year being named to the All-Pro team, cementing his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in the 50s and arguably the best passer in Lions history.
After departing from the team in 1958, Bobby Layne left an infamous curse that plagues the Lions to this day, claiming that the team wouldn’t win another championship for 50 years. 50 years after making that bold claim, the Lions completed the first winless 0-16 season in modern NFL history.