Detroit Needed A Win To Secure A Playoff Spot, Were They Able To Do It?
Detroit had three tough games to close out the season. At New York, At Dallas, and home against Green Bay, possibly for the NFC North title. A week later, Detroit lost to New York and Green Bay won both of its games, meaning the game next week will be for the NFC North title. This week though, in primetime Detroit had to take on Dallas, who already won their division and locked in the number one seed. Fans from both sides were wondering if Dallas would start or rest its starters, and they answered that question by having them play all 60 minutes. It comes down to week 17 Lions fans, for all the marbles.
Matt Stafford returned to his home state of Texas and tried to lead his team back to the playoffs. He ended up going 26/46 for 260 yards and an interception, along with fumbling late in the fourth quarter. Stafford didn’t look as solid as normal with the running game finally coming alive. He made a horrible pass that was intercepted and wasn’t able to do much with his legs, only getting one rush for a yard that did go for a touchdown, besides that he couldn’t run much. He threw many passes that should have been picked off but weren’t. Not Stafford’s best day at all.
The running game for Detroit was actually alive, and lead by Zach Zenner instead of Dwayne Washington. Zenner had 12 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to bust through some holes and give Detroit’s offense some better playcalling as they could mix it up. Joique Bell wasn’t active which is surprising after bringing him back two weeks ago he hasn’t seen much action. Dwayne Washington on the other hand had seven carries for 22 yards. After Zenner was able to start off well, he lost playing time for no reason, Jim Bob Cooter will have to answer why he lost playing time after doing well.
Eric Ebron lead the charge in the air, getting eight catches for 93 yards. Golden Tate got six catches for 58 yards and Boldin had five catches for 33 yards. Marvin Jones was quiet for another game, getting one catch for 16 yards. Good game for Ebron and have him stepping up is nice, but it sucks not having Riddick out there and Marvin Jones not producing number one wide receiver numbers.
The offensive line was impressive in the first half, creating holes and giving Stafford time. The second half though was a different story, as it usually is for Detroit. Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl, Laken Tomlinson and Larry Warford were getting messed up and forcing Stafford to make bad throws, and get sacked four times, one of the times allowing a fumble on the sack.
Ziggy Ansah was able to get a sack and seven total tackles, two for loss, easily his best game of the year. A’Shawn Robinson also had four tackles, while Kerry Hyder and Haloti Ngata had two. The defensive line wasn’t at it’s best today and again it screamed a need for Detroit come draft day.
The linebackers were impressive today. Tahir Whitehead made some key tackles during the game, getting six at the end of the game and a sack. Levy played some more, but only got two tackles. Josh Bynes had three tackles as the Lions were able to contain Jason Witten to only two catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Elliot had one catch for 12 yards. Since Levy has returned this linebacking core has improved a lot, making it tougher for opposing tight ends and running backs to get open. Witten did get a touchdown, but it was off a trick play so you can’t blame the linebackers for falling for that too much.
Without Darius Slay. Detroit struggled. Tavon Wilson lead the secondary and team with eight tackles. Bademosi had six tackles while Lawson had three. Asa Jackson, the cornerback that hurt Detroit in the secondary last week didn’t help again today. He helped allow Elliot to run for a 55 yard touchdown, and messed up the zone coverage and let Brice Bulter get the easy touchdown. He doesn’t deserve to be on the team anymore.
Special Teams did some good and some bad this week. Andre Roberts had two kick returns for 64 yards, and getting one punt return for 23 yards. Sam Martin had four punts for 194 yards, getting two inside the 20. Matt Prater missed his only field goal attempt from 47 yards out.
Week 16: What It Means
It all comes down to next week in primetime at home. Detroit vs Green Bay, winner gets the NFC North title and a home playoff game, while the loser will need some help to get in as the six seed is the only other spot either team can get.
Zach Zenner being able to run the ball was huge for Detroit. Sure he didn’t explode on the field with a lot of yards, but getting over 50 and having two touchdowns says a lot. No word on Abdullah and if he will return this season, but him coming back would be huge for the backfield in Detroit.
Defensive end is the number one need on this team for the NFL draft. Devin Taylor looked lost and messed up an easy sack. Come April Detroit needs to take a defensive end in the first round and the best one late in the first round would be Taco Charlton from Michigan
Week 16: What To Think About
Detroit played an impressive first half, giving the number one seed a tough game. The refs made some horrible calls though and it gave Dallas life. If the refs make some better calls, Detroit would have had a better chance. It doesn’t help though when your offensive line forces your quarterback to run for his life and the defense is missing a key cornerback and his replacements get beat.
Travis Swanson and Theo Riddick need to return week 17. Detroit needs help on the offensive line and in the running game. While Riddick isn’t the best rushing back on the team, he helps the passing game become open and gives Stafford more options.
The game to pay attention to next week before Detroit plays Green Bay is the New York Giants vs the Washington Redskins. If the Redskins lose, Detroit is going to the playoffs, either as the six seed or the number 2-4 seed, and I would expect Detroit, if they win the division, to be a four seed as the Seahawks play the 49ers and the Falcons play the Saints. Those two teams could rest their starters, as they have already have clinched a spot, but they might want to fight for that two seed.
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