A Look At How The Second Quarter Of This Year’s Season Might Pan Out For The Detroit Lions
In case you missed my predictions for the first four games of the season, click here for a look at my picks for the first four games of the season.
At this point in the season, the Lions are a mediocre 2-2, albeit after a rather tough first four-week schedule to start the season. I decided to go ahead and predict how the rest of the league would pan out after four weeks and these are narratives around the league that I am predicting:
- A total of four teams are able to escape the first quarter of the season with a perfect 4-0 record: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and Pittsburgh
- Just four teams from the AFC are able to finish with above a .500 record after four weeks, while seven are over .500 in the NFC
- The NFC North is still very much an open race with Minnesota and Green Bay tied for first place at 3-1, with Detroit and Chicago both sitting one game back at 2-2
- Three teams are still winless at 0-4, those being: Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, and Arizona
Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions; October 7th 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Matthew Stafford vs Packers Young Secondary
I’m not satisfied with the Lions 3-4 record at home against Green Bay since 2011. Even more upsetting is that with Aaron Rodgers starting the Lions are only 1-4 in that timeframe (should be 2-3 but we won’t go into detail about that). In those five starts the Packers average 23.2 ppg and that’s solid, but it’s certainly not insurmountable. It’s hard to tell what Rodgers will look like coming off of this shoulder injury, but my money is on him still being a top-three quarterback. This is going to be a game where a good offense is the Lions’ best defense. What I mean by that is keeping Rodgers and company off the field, whether it’s with turnovers or long methodical drives is going to be key to winning. Matthew Stafford will have his work cut out for him because the Packers not only return Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Clay Matthews up front, but they also bring back a solid young corner in Kevin King along with early draft picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson in the secondary. Davon House and Tramon Williams aren’t all that impressive so I expect the two rookies to see a good chunk of time at corner for the Cheeseheads. Matthew Stafford and his trio of top receivers should expect to have at least one good one-on-one matchup while they’re all on the field. If the Lions are able to take advantage of this by converting a few third and longs and winning the turnover battle, they should take the first of two from Green Bay.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 23, Detroit Lions 31
Week 7: Detroit Lions @ Miami Dolphins; October 21st 1:00pm
Key Matchup: Lions Defensive Front vs Dolphins Running Backs
Here is a stat that I did not expect to encounter when doing some research for this pick: The Patriots were 1-4 against the Dolphins on the road from 2013-17. Not really something you want to see when your new head coach was calling the defense for all those games. Nonetheless, the key to winning this game is fairly simple. Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury will most definitely slow him down and make him less of a running threat. With that said, he’s still an average passer with a solid arm. The Dolphins will likely be counting on help from their running game to take some of the pressure off of Tannehill who has surrendered 97 turnovers in 77 career starts. This running game will be made up of a trio of Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake, and rookie Kalen Ballage. If I was a Dolphins fan I’d be hoping Drake gets the majority of those carries because he has quietly been a very efficient young back. The Lions need to slow down the Dolphins’ rushing attack and put all the pressure that they can on Tannehill and the Dolphins’ passing game. The secondary has a solid talent advantage over Miami’s receiving corps, so I expect them to handle their job well. Miami was only 29th in the league in rushing last season so the only way that I can see Detroit letting this one slip away is if they lose the turnover battle by two or more.
Prediction: Detroit Lions 24, Miami Dolphins 20
Week 8: Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions; October 28th 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Lions Wide Receivers vs Seattle Secondary
Gone are the days of the Legion of Boom… Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor have abandoned what is now a shell of the former Seattle defense which terrified the NFL. This squad is now comprised of Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, and a lot of players that I have not heard of. Some notables are draft busts Barkevious Mingo and Dion Jordan, along with former Michigan DL Frank Clark who I most remember for the time he stole someone’s laptop in college. The point is that this Seattle defense projects to be not very good and their saving grace is that they have a dynamic playmaker at quarterback who is capable of winning games on his own. I personally can’t stand Russell Wilson. After watching him scramble around on 3rd and 20+, dodging sack after sack, and completing heartbreaking 23-yard passes for years, it makes me happy to see that his defense is done helping him. I think that this is a game where the Lions receivers can lose corners at will and the running game should be able to succeed against a Seattle front that really has only one or two notable talents. No amount of illegal batting or ridiculous end zone facemask catches will bail out Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense, which simply doesn’t have enough help from the other two facets of the game to win many games this year.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24, Detroit Lions 41
Week 9: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings; November 4th 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Ezekiel Ansah vs Riley Reiff
I had a hard time deciding which matchup to key in on for this game so I thought a duel between former teammates would be influential and interesting at the same time. I realize that Ziggy may not be lined up against Riley Reiff on every play, but I’m sure they’ll be matched up a lot and it will no doubt be important in deciding the outcome of this game. The Lions were somewhat lucky to win in Minnesota last year. They won the turnover battle 3-0 and injured Dalvin Cook which it seemed to me that after Cook went down threw off their offensive game plan. They won’t get that lucky this time, however, they have laid a blueprint for themselves on how to beat Minnesota on the road (they were the only team to do it last year). Anthony Zettel had two sacks, four hurries, and a fumble recovery in that game. Somebody has to be generating pressure on Cousins, whether that be Ziggy Ansah or someone else. Stuffing the run and generating quarterback pressures is the only way that a team is going to win in Minnesota this season. I’m hoping that coach Matt Patricia can find ways to generate pressure that we didn’t see much of during the Caldwell era. Overall, I just don’t think Detroit gets enough pressure on Cousins and the Vikings offense to slow them enough. Teams really struggle to put up points in Minnesota lately and I can’t see the trend changing.
Prediction: Detroit Lions 17, Minnesota Vikings 27
Cumulative record through 8 games: 5-3