Detroit was able to keep games close and then pull them out at the end — the eight fourth-quarter comebacks was an NFL record.

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2016 record: 9-7, second NFC North.

Coach: Jim Caldwell (53-43 in six seasons overall, 27-21 in three seasons with the Lions. Caldwell led the Colts to the Super Bowl following the 2009 season when Indianapolis finished 14-2).

Series record: The Seahawks lead the series 8-5, including a 13-10 win in Seattle on Monday night in 2015. Seattle is 3-0 against the Lions at CenturyLink Field. The two teams have never met in the playoffs.

By the numbers

12 Seasons in which Detroit has made the playoffs since winning the NFL title in 1957, including this season.

10 Number of times Detroit lost its first playoff game since 1957, the only win coming in 1991, a divisional playoff victory over Dallas.

33 Passing touchdowns allowed, second-most in the NFL.

8 Rushing touchdowns allowed, second-fewest in the NFL

Early line: Seahawks by 7½ points.

Key players

QB Matthew Stafford: The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft out of Georgia, Stafford looked like a legitimate MVP candidate for much of the season in leading the Lions to eight fourth-quarter comebacks. But Stafford suffered an injury to the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand in the 13th game of the season against the Bears and hasn’t been the same since. In the first 12 games before he was injured Stafford threw 21 touchdowns against five interceptions. Since then he has three touchdowns and five interceptions. Stafford said after Sunday’s loss to Green Bay that he will continue to wear a glove to protect his hand in the playoffs.

WR Golden Tate: One of the offensive standouts on Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl winning team, Tate is in his third year with the Lions after signing a five-year contract worth $31 million in March 2014. Tate has had 90 or more receptions in all three seasons with the Lions, finishing this year with 91 for 1,077 yards —the second time he has topped the 1,000-yard mark with Detroit. In his best season with Seattle, he had 64 catches for 898 yards in 2013.

RB Zach Zenner: A second-year player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State, Zenner has emerged as Detroit’s lead back heading into the playoffs, on the field for 64 of 66 snaps against the Packers on Sunday. The 5-11, 221-pounder finished the season with just 334 yards on 88 attempts. But Zenner took over as the team’s lead back once Theo Riddick was lost for the season with a wrist injury and had 136 yards on 32 carries in the final two games, losses against Dallas and Green Bay.

CB Darius Slay: A second-round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi State, Slay has been Detroit’s most dependable defensive back this season and the only Lions’ defensive player to earn any sort of Pro Bowl mention, named as an alternate. He missed the loss against Dallas with a hamstring injury last week but returned against the Packers and was given much of the responsibility for guarding Jordy Nelson, who had just one catch for eight yards in the first half before making a few catches on other defenders later in the game.


The Lions ranked just 21st in the NFL in total offense and 18th in total defense and finished with a point differential of minus-12 – the only one of the six NFC playoff teams to score fewer points than they allowed this season. But Detroit was able to keep games close and then pull them out at the end — the eight fourth-quarter comebacks was an NFL record.

But Detroit won only one game this season by more than seven points and none of the nine teams it defeated made it to the playoffs. Against playoff teams the Lions went 0-5, outscored 134-91. That includes a three-game losing streak to end the year in which the Lions were outscored by the Giants, Cowboys and Packers 90-51.

Detroit got to the playoffs mostly by winning close games against mediocre or bad teams. Detroit didn’t run it well this year, ranking 30th in the NFL in rushing offense at 81.9 per game, and rushed for more than 100 yards in a game only three teams all season, and wasn’t great at stopping it, allowing 4.4 yards per carry — 20th in the NFL and 1 yard per carry more than Seattle’s NFL best 3.4.

Stafford and Tate led what was a decent passing attack as the Lions finished 11th in the NFL in passing offense at 256.9 per game, just behind Seattle at 257.8. Detroit also was good at not turning the ball over, losing it just 15 times, fewer than all but four other teams. Seven of those turnovers came in the last four games, and five in the last three as the Lions stumbled to the finish. Detroit also has solid special teams — kicker Matt Prater (31 of 36 on field goals) and punter Sam Martin (48.5 yards per punt). Symbolic of a team whose record is better than its numbers, though, Detroit had no players named to the Pro Bowl. Martin, Prater, Stafford and Slay are alternates.