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One Reason To Be Hopeful for Lions' 2021 Season

Here's one reason to be hopeful about the Detroit Lions' 2021 season.

After one week of action in the 2021 regular season, the Lions, as expected, don't appear to be on the verge of contending for the NFC North division crown. 

Their myriad of issues on both sides of the ball were on full display through the first three quarters of their Week 1 contest with the San Francisco 49ers, leading to a 38-17 deficit to start the fourth quarter. 

Detroit did make a valiant comeback attempt, outscoring the 49ers, 16-3, in the final quarter. However, the attempt fell short, and the Lions dropped the season-opening tilt, 41-33. 

For as bad as Dan Campbell's squad was in his debut as Detroit head coach, there is reason for hope for the Lions in 2021: the NFC North doesn't look very strong after one week of play. 

Each team in the division -- the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Lions -- lost its Week 1 game. 

Additionally, the Bears and Packers each suffered blowout defeats. 

Chicago lost by 20 points to Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, 34-14. Meanwhile, Green Bay lost by 35 points to Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints, 38-3. 

Detroit, unlike the Bears and Packers, showed some fight until the game clock hit 0:00 and gave its fans a bit of optimism that this season won't be like last year -- a season during which the then-Matt Patricia-led squad rolled over time and time again when staring at a double-digit deficit. 

It's something that first-year Lions head man Dan Campbell was proud of, after his team's Week 1 loss.  

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Campbell expressed as much during a guest spot on the "Stoney & Jansen with Heather" show Tuesday morning on 97.1 The Ticket. 

"Well, what I had hoped and that was that they weren't going to treat this like, man, this is just like last year, (where) things go bad and it just doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And, they just, they lose a little spark. They didn't do that. They didn't," Campbell told the show's co-hosts Mike Stone and Jon Jansen. "They did exactly what we talked about, (to) just play the situation, play the play in front of you and don't worry about it." 

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Campbell added, "At some point, when you realize it's 41-10, 41-17, you can't look at the scoreboard anymore. You know what, defense, we've got to get a stop. Just worry about this play and this series. Offense, when you get it back, we've got to find a way to march it down and get it in the end zone. Oh, and by the way, we've got to get two. Got to get a 2-point conversion. And, that's all you can worry about. And pretty soon, just as quick as you got yourself in a hole, you can get yourself out of a hole just as quick. So, in the least, you could see that, and there was a little validation in that. And, they did fight and they never gave up, and I'm proud of them for that." 

Coming into the 2021 campaign, the NFC North was not expected to be as bad as it looked in Week 1. 

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, for instance, came into the season as heavy favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the NFC. 

Yet, at least for a single week, the NFC North gave off a strong 2020 NFC East vibe -- a season during which the Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record. 

I'm not saying that the NFC North has become the NFC East all of a sudden. 

Rodgers & Co. are expected to wake up sooner than later, and the Bears could be in store for a boost to their offense in the next few weeks, via the supplanting of Andy Dalton at the quarterback position by rookie Justin Fields. 

Don't tell Detroit fans that the division is expected to get better as the season progresses, though. 

The simple reason why: The rest of the NFC North stinking gives Campbell & Co. their best chance at being relevant this year.

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