Ultimate Standings: Lions move up in overall rank, coaching

AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's Oct. 12 Owners Issue. Subscribe today!

Detroit Lions

Overall: 89
Title track: 111
Ownership: 75
Coaching: T62
Players: 81
Fan relations: 100
Affordability: 79
Stadium experience: 88
Bang for the buck: 56
Change from last year: +22

For a team that has only one playoff win in the Super Bowl era -- and none in nearly a quarter-century -- Detroit's place in the Ultimate Standings isn't quite as bad as you might think.

What's good

Last year's 11-win season was very good, tied for the second-best total in Lions history, which helps explain the club's 22-point overall rise in the Ultimate Standings. And for the second straight year, the Lions' highest showing was in bang for the buck, which climbed 16 places this year -- of course, winning double-digit games for the first time in four years will help with that. Much of last year's success was credited to new head coach Jim Caldwell, who replaced Jim Schwartz and gave the team a steady presence -- and, subsequently, a jump of 38 places in the coaching category.

What's bad

The big unknown is whether the Lions can keep winning. Our Ultimate Standings suggests they won't. Only one NFL team, the Browns, has a lower title track ranking than the Lions. As for fan relations, the Lions rank poorly there too: 100th out of 122, although that's actually up 20 spots since last year. Detroit did not fare well in categories regarding social media and online presence, making it harder for fans to connect. The squad also charges $72 a ticket on average, more expensive than 12 other teams in the league. While Detroit's costs aren't prohibitive, fans expect more for that price: The Lions' long-term failures aren't fully in accord with their present-day pricing.

What's new

The Lions really believe they upgraded going from Jim Schwartz to Jim Caldwell, as, apparently, do the fans, based on that big increase in the coaching category. But some of the team's 2014 success has to do with defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who was a head-coaching candidate last offseason and could be one again next year. The roster was much better-received this year (players went up 31 spots), with the offensive combo of Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate all making the Pro Bowl -- the first time in more than a decade the Lions have sent three offensive players. Still, all things considered, including the team's history, it isn't surprising the Lions remain low, at No. 89 overall.

Next: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Full rankings