Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A timely opponent for the Lions

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Thought I'd pass along this engaging bit of perspective from Vince Masi of ESPN's Stats & Information department.

Masi found a historic trend of sorts that suggests Detroit might actually have a chance to get into the win column Sunday. The common denominator? The New Orleans Saints, who just happen to be the Lions' next opponent.

On four occasions over the past 31 years, an NFL team that started 0-7 or worse got its first victory against the Saints. Here are the instances:

Year: 2007
Team: St. Louis Rams
Record when played Saints: 0-8
Result: Rams 37, Saints 29
Final record: 3-13

Year: 1999
Team: Cleveland Browns
Record when played Saints: 0-7
Result: Browns 21, Saints 16
Final record: 2-14

Year: 1998
Team: Carolina Panthers
Record when played Saints: 0-7
Result: 31-17
Final record: 4-12

Year: 1977
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record when played Saints: 0-12
Result: 33-14
Final record: 2-12

Does this mean the Lions are a historic certainty to win Sunday? Of course not. But here's what this research tells me: If there is any franchise who might bail the Lions out of infamy, it's the Saints.