No. 56: Detroit Lions

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:13 PM ET
By Eddie Matz | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 94
Title track: 78
Ownership: 53
Coaching: 30
Players: 61
Fan relations: 100
Affordability: 72
Stadium experience: 56
Bang for the buck: 18

Leave it to the citizens of Detroit to recognize a bargain when they see one. Last season, Lions fans, whose city was ranked the nation's poorest according to the 2009 Census (36.4% of residents were below the poverty line), paid the fifth-lowest ticket prices in the NFL ($62.40 on average) for the privilege of watching the only squad in the NFL that has bettered its record three years running. As if that weren't enough, Stafford, Megatron et al. tallied a franchise-record 474 points. No wonder the Ford Field faithful gave their team an 87-spot value vault (bang for the buck: 18, up from 105), the largest in this year's rankings. And given that bang accounts for 21.6 percent of the overall number, it's also no surprise that the Comeback Cats experienced a rankings rebound, scoring their highest grade yet (56, up from 94 a year ago). Helping the cause is a favored front office led by former NFL corner Martin Mayhew and local product Tom Lewand (U of M), plus feisty field boss Jim Schwartz, who tickled Lions loyalists by mixing it up with Jim Harbaugh following last October's home loss to San Francisco. As much as Motowners appreciate their coach's antics, they could do without the escapades of players like Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure (fan relations: 100), both of whom were arrested multiple times this past offseason. In total, Detroit players have been arrested seven times since January, which is way more than fans bargained for.