Lessons Lions Can Learn from Playoff Teams

Read more on the lessons the Lions can learn from this year's playoff teams
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"Super Wild Card Weekend" ended up being super fun for NFL fans to consume. 

It included a game on Nickelodeon that was well-received, and it concluded with the Cleveland Browns, without their head man in Kevin Stefanski, pulling off a shocking upset of their AFC North divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers. 

It also included some vital lessons that the Lions can hopefully take with them, as they attempt to build a relevant and competitive team in future seasons. 

Here are the biggest three that the next regime can hopefully apply to Detroit's roster. 

Need to have a consistently productive ground game 

In five of the six wild card games this weekend, the team with the game's leading rusher won the contest (the L.A. Rams with Cam Akers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Leonard Fournette, the Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson, the New Orleans Saints with Alvin Kamara and the Browns with Nick Chubb). 

They each also rushed for at least 76 yards (Chubb), while Jackson rushed for a  weekend-high 136 yards. 

The Lions need to hope that D'Andre Swift can take the next step in year No. 2 and become the type of running back can consistently take over games. 

He has the ability to do so, and showcased it on occasion in 2020, including in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he rushed for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns. 

Now, he just needs to make it happen on a more frequent basis. 

Need to build up the defense 

In the first five games of wild card weekend, the winning squad held the opposition to 24 or less points. 

The only contest that saw a high-scoring affair ensue was in Sunday's nightcap between the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Baker Mayfield led Cleveland to a 48-37 win over Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh.

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If you didn't know already, Detroit's defense was completely incompetent in 2020. It couldn't sufficiently stop the run or the pass, and it led to the team setting franchise-worst marks in both total points (519) and yards allowed (6,716) for a single season. 

It means that over the course of the entire year, the Lions permitted 32.4 points per game. You aren't going to win many games in the National Football League allowing 30-plus points per contest. 

The defensive side of the ball clearly needs to be revamped this offseason, and this past weekend was just another indication of it. 

Be aggressive on offense 

The Tennessee Titans and Steelers both lost this weekend, after making questionable decisions not to go for it on fourth-and-short yardage situations in the fourth quarter. 

The Titans decided to punt on a fourth-and-2 play with 10:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, while down 17-13 and with the ball at the Ravens' 40-yard line.  

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was trailing, 35-23, when it faced a fourth-and-1 at its own 46-yard line, with 14:52 to play. 

In this situation, the Steelers' Mike Tomlin, just like Tennessee's Mike Vrabel, went against analytics and summoned the punting unit, and in the process, stunted his team's comeback efforts.

The lesson to be learned here is that when it's playoff time and you're facing a short-yardage situation on fourth down, leave the punting team on the sideline and go for it. 

Hopefully, Detroit remembers to deploy this methodology the next time it qualifies for the postseason.

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