Lions Hold NFC North Lead After Testy Win Against Jacksonville

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Detroit Get The Win Against Jacksonville to Hold the Lead in the NFC North

Coming off the bye week, Detroit was 99 percent healthy with DeAndre Levy being the only injured player and a first place lead in the NFC North with just seven games left. They invited Jacksonville to Ford Field in what looked like it should be an easy win for the team. Anyone who watches this team knows no win is easy. Luckily for Detroit, they were able to pull this win out and keep their postseason hopes alive.

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Matt Stafford had a rough week against the Jaguars’ defense. He didn’t have much time in the pocket to throw and when he did, he was inconsistent. He didn’t see a wide open Golden Tate on one play and overthrew Eric Ebron and Marvin Jones. He ended up going 24 for 33 for 278 yards.

The offensive line struggles affected the running game as well. Theo Riddick only had four carry for 13 yards while Dwayne Washington was the leading back with 13 carries for just six yards. It was the worst rushing game by Detroit this year and it almost cost them. You can’t blame the backs all that much with the offensive line not giving them much to work with; all too often they were met at the line of scrimmage.

While Theo Riddick didn’t exist in the rushing game, he did well receiving, leading the team with eight catches for 70 yards. Anquan Boldin had six catches for 37 yards, while Golden Tate had three catches for 27 yards. Andre Roberts had one catch for 44 yards and Eric Ebron was quiet, but came up big with three catches for 70 yards and got a rushing touchdown from the one yard line.

The offensive line had huge struggles today. They allowed three sacks and only three rushing yards. To win the NFC North or appear in the NFC wildcard or divisional game they need to improve greatly. They have had some good and bad flashes this season. Today was bad as it was a group effort in their poor play today, it wasn’t one offensive lineman that failed, they all struggled which affected the offense completely.

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The defensive line wasn’t impressive today. Khyri Thornton started in place of Tyrunn Walker and didn’t have an impact in his start. Ziggy Ansah was alright, getting four tackles, but hitting Bortles three times. Haloti Ngata was the next best defensive lineman with just three tackles and a QB hit, as the unit was never able to get a sack even after Jacksonville lost their starting left guard.

Linebackers were average today. Tahir Whitehead had only three tackles, but wasn’t his best in zone coverage again. Antwione Williams had four tackles and a fumble recovery, while Josh Bynes didn’t get a tackle he did well in coverage. While they weren’t the best unit today, they weren’t the worst. They held the Jaguars tight ends to just 28 yards on five catches, but they struggled covering the running backs as they made nine catches for 95 yards.

The secondary for Detroit was the best unit today. Darius Slay had three tackles and a pass deflection. Glover Quin was able to get Detroit some momentum with a fumble in the first half, he also had two tackles as well. Rafael Bush had a good day, getting four tackles, one for loss, a pass deflection and a pick six to give Detroit the lead to start the third quarter. Nevin Lawson also impressed with three tackles and two pass deflections. Miles Killebrew and Tavon Wilson were the leading tacklers on the team though, getting five tackles each. Wilson had a interception with four seconds left to seal the win, while Killebrew had his best game of the year.

Special teams had some hits and misses. Sam Martin was a hit with six punts for 291 yards, three ending inside the 20. Matt Prater made both of his field goal attempts, the longest from 43 yards out, but he had an extra point attempt tipped. Andre Roberts made a huge mistake on a punt return, fumbling it and giving Jacksonville an easy three points. He would make up for it as he returned a punt for a touchdown, ending the day with two returns for 55 yards.

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Week 11: What it Means

Detroit still holds first place in the NFC North. They needed to win this game and while it was a struggle it is still a win. Chicago lost to the Giants and the Vikings beat the Cardinals, so a loss would have knocked Detroit out of first place. The Thanksgiving game against Minnesota will be big as Detroit getting a two game lead over Minnesota and holding the advantage over them would help Detroit’s playoff chances greatly.

Tyrunn Walker not playing could mean a possible change of hands on the defensive line. He has been playing well this year and seeing him be healthy and scratched is raises questions. Khyri Thornton has been playing well this year, but for him to come out of nowhere and start over Walker and A’Shawn Robinson means Teryl Austin has faith in his defensive tackle.

The offensive line can win or lose you the game. They need to impress against NFC North opponents in the second half of the season or else Detroit won’t have a chance to win the division. The bad thing is it wasn’t one player who was messing up, it was all five men.

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Week 11: What to Think About

Andre Roberts is the most inconsistent player on this team. He struggles in staying inside the end zone on kick-offs, except for today. He drops wide open passes, but makes tough grabs. He drops punt returns, but also can take one to the house. Detroit should consider looking elsewhere for a returner or a wide receiver as Roberts’ inconsistency could possibly end up hurting Detroit in a big game.

The NFC playoff picture has gotten a little bit better for Detroit. The Saints lost on Thursday and while the Vikings won, the Cardinals lost which helps the wildcard spot out. The Giants beating Chicago was good for the division, but hurt Detroit in the wildcard scenario. Tampa beat Kansas City as well which hurt them too, but if Detroit can just win in the division they won’t need to worry about the wildcard. For now though, it is something to keep an eye on.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.