There’s no two ways around it – west is worst for the Detroit Lions. A team that’s known is relative share of failure, the Lions are especially inept when playing in the Pacific time zone. The Lions have lost their last six NFL regular-season games played on the West Coast. They are 1-11 in their last 12 games out there, and 2-18 over their last 20 games played while dealing with the three-hour time difference when moving from Eastern Standard Time to Paficic Standard Time.
The good news from a Lions standpoint is where those two wins have been earned – at Oakland against the Raiders. When the Lions beat the Raiders 36-21 in the opening week of the 2007 season, not only was it the franchise’s first-ever win in Oakland, it was Detroit’s first win on the West Coast since they downed the Seattle Seahawks in 1999. The most recent West Coast win posted by the Lions was also achieved at Oakland, a 28-27 squeaker on Dec. 18, 2011 that ended a five-game West Coast losing streak for Detroit.
Timing Could Be Right – The Lions have never won an NFL preseason game at Oakland, but chances are this could be the best chance they’ve ever had, and timing is everything, right? Inept is the best way to describe how the Raiders have performed of late in the presason. Overall, the Raiders have lost seven preseason games in a row. They’ve dropped five in succession at home, and have fallen six straight times to NFC opponents. On the other hand, they’ve also won four straight preseason games at home over the Lions.
On A Roll – The Lions are currently enjoying their best run of success in franchise history in games against the Raiders. Detroit has won the last four regular-season games against the Raiders, the last two played in Detroit as well as the last two played at Oakland. Prior to that charge, the Lions had never won in Oakland, and had never won back-to-back games against the Raiders, going 2-6 over the course of their first eight meetings.
Pile It Up – The last Lions-Raiders game in 2011 was an aberration, the Lions recording an 18-13 verdict over the Raiders. That was just the second time in eight meetings that both teams finished with less than 20 points. In four of the last six Raiders-Lions games, the total has exceeded 50 points. The total has also gone past 50 points in the last two preseason games between these teams, averaging 52 points. Both teams reached the 20-point plateau in each of those games.
Close Rarely Counts – Another trend with Raiders-Lions games is that they are generally one-sided. Just three of 12 Raiders-Lions regular-season games have been decided by single-digit margins. The average margin of victory in the other nine meetings is 16.2 points. Three of the last five preseason games between the two teams also resulted in double-digit victory margins. The Raiders have never scored under 21 points in a home game against the Lions, regular or preseason.
Back From The Booth – Coming off a 12-4 2016 season and their first playoff berth since 2002, there was hope that the Silver and Black were back, but when the Raiders tanked to 6-10 in 2017, coach Jack Del Rio was out and Jon Gruden returned to the sidelines from the Monday Night Football booth. Gruden previously coached the Raiders to successive AFC West titles and playoff berths in 2000 and 2001 during a four-season stint as Oakland’s head coach.
Matt Pat From The Pats – The Lions also missed the playoffs in 2017 after being postseason participants in 2016 and that cost head coach Jim Caldwell his job. Matt Patricia, defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, was brought in to hopefully teach the Lions the path to success. Probably not a good time to point out that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was once a Lions assistant coach. Then again, so were Chuck Knox, Jerry Glanville, George Allen, Marty Schottenheimer and Don Shula and the team didn’t hire them, either.
Speaking Of Matts – Is there a quarterback who’s never won a playoff game with better numbers than Detroit’s Matthew Stafford? The fastest QB to reach 30,000 career yards passing, doing it in 109 games Stafford is one of four QBs in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season. He also holds the single-season record for comeback wins, with eight of them in 2016. Last year, the Lions signed him to a $135 million contract extension, making Stafford the NFL’s highest-paid QB. But he’s 0-3 in the postseason.
Raiders Lost In the Dark – In their heyday, the Raiders made hay by bringing in other team’s castoffs, from George Blanda to Lyle Alzado to John Matuszak to Jim Plunkett. And they are trying to do that again. Last season, they grabbed running back Marshawn Lynch, a Super Bowl winner with the Seahawks, off the scrap heap, and this season, they are turning to Jordy Nelson. Nelson, 33, was the go-to receiver for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but looks to have lost a step.
The Last One – The Lions are the only NFC team that’s never played in the Super Bowl, and Bovada has them pegged at +5500 to win Super Bowl LIII, which seems about right for a team that’s achieved one playoff victory since 1957, a 38-6 triumph over Dallas in 1991. That 1957 postseason win was a 59-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns in the NFL title Game, the last time the Lions reigned over the league as champions.
Can They Be Winners? – Neither of these teams is evoking much confidence from the online sportsbooks that they are about to emback on big seasons. Bovada pegs the win total for the Lions at 7.5, a number they’ve topped in three of the last four seasons. Play the over and you’ll get -135, while the under sits at odds of +105. Bovada likes the Raiders a bit better, setting their total at eight wins. The over gets you odds of -130 and the under is set at even money.