Being good in the red zone on offense has a direct correlation with winning football in the NFL. Teams that consistently score touchdowns and don't settle for field goals typically put themselves in a position to win every week.
Of the top 10 red zone scoring teams in the NFL by percentage, only Baltimore (4-5) has a losing record on the season.
It's part of the reason why the Lions have been so inconsistent this season. Detroit ranks 29th in the league in red zone scoring percentage, converting just 44.4 percent of their trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line to touchdowns. Cincinnati (5-3), Pittsburgh (5-2-1), Kansas City (8-1), Seattle (4-4), Carolina (6-2) and New Orleans (7-1) are all converting in the red zone more than 70 percent of the time.
"Certainly, points are a big part of this game and that's really what kind of swings it," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after Sunday's 24-9 loss in Minnesota, a game in which the Lions were 0-for-3 in the red zone.
In Detroit's three victories this season, they are a combined 8-for-14 in the red zone. That's 57 percent and would rank 15th in the NFL.
In their five losses, Detroit is a combined 4-for-13 converting touchdowns in the red zone. That's 31 percent and would rank last in the league.
The Lions are averaging just 1.9 yards per play in the red zone this season, which ranks 30th. Only San Francisco (1.89) and Buffalo (1.73) are worse. Detroit also ranks 29th in red zone successful play percentage (37.1). Quarterback Matthew Stafford has a passer rating of 82.6 in the red zone this season. His rating overall is 96.5.
"It was a big deal in the outcome of the game," Stafford said of the red zone troubles against the Vikings. "If we go into the red zone, we score touchdowns there, then the score of the game would have been a lot different. We've got to get better in several areas."
Pro Football Focus Week 9 stats:
Top 3 graded players on offense by Pro Football Focus vs. Minnesota (at least 10 snaps):
- G Frank Ragnow (74.4)
- WR Marvin Jones Jr. (72.6)
- G T.J. Lang (68.6)
Bottom 3 graded players on offense by Pro Football Focus vs. Minnesota (at least 10 snaps):
- G Kenny Wiggins (45.0)
- LT Taylor Decker (53.4)
- QB Matthew Stafford (54.8)
Top 3 graded players on defense by Pro Football Focus vs. Minnesota (at least 10 snaps):
- DT Damon Harrison (90.3)
- CB Darius Slay (80.7)
- S Glover Quin (78.3)
Bottom 3 graded players on defense by Pro Football Focus vs. Minnesota (at least 10 snaps):
- CB Teez Tabor (28.4)
- LB Jarrad Davis (45.8)
- DT Ricky Jean Francois (51.1)
Here are some other statistics, both good and bad, for the Lions after nine weeks of football:
- Long snapper Don Muhlbach appeared in his 220th career game last Sunday, passing Dominic Raiola (219) for the second most games played in Lions history. Only Jason Hanson (327) has appeared in more games for the Lions.
- The Lions are allowing on average 5.8 yards per rush on first down, the highest average in the NFL.
- Damon Harrison leads all NFL defensive tackles with 44 tackles so far this season.
- The Lions have defended 20 passes this season, the least in the NFL. There are 12 teams in the league with at least 40.
- Matt Prater's 16 made field goals are the seventh most in the NFL, and third most among kickers who have played only eight games.
- Darius Slay recorded his second interception of the season Sunday vs. the Vikings. He now has 10 picks over the last two seasons, the most in the NFL over that span. Slay has 16 career interceptions, tying Ray Crockett for the sixth most interceptions in team history.