In 2004, Football Outsiders' Mike Tanier named the 1999 Lions as one of the "worst playoff teams ever":
The Lions had just lost Barry Sanders and were starting second-year pro Charlie Batch at quarterback. They were coming off a 5–11 season. Hopes weren't high, but a 6–2 start made the Lions a surprise contender at the midway point in the season. Reality soon set in, however, and the Lions lost their last four straight. Two other NFC teams finished 8–8, but the Lions beat the Panthers during the season and held the tiebreaker over the Packers. The Redskins beat them 27–13 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The season had an inauspicious beginning as future Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders suddenly retired on the eve of training camp. Undaunted, Coach Bobby Ross led the Lions to a fast start, highlighted by a Week 9 win over the then 6–1 St. Louis Rams. The following week, Coach Ross made a questionable decision to go for a failed two-point conversion after a touchdown against Arizona. The game ended with Detroit in the red zone trying to score a game-winning touchdown. After defeating the Redskins in Week 13 for the franchise's first win vs. Washington since 1965, the Lions had an 8–4 record and were the second seed in the NFC. Subsequently, the Lions lost their last four regular season games and backed into the 6th playoff seed.