A Look At How The Third Quarter Of This Year’s Season Might Pan Out For The Detroit Lions
In case you missed my predictions for the first half of the season, click here for a look at my picks for the first four games or here to see my picks and predictions for games 5-8.
At this point in the season, the Lions are sitting at 5-3, which leaves them right in the thick of the playoff race halfway through the year. Here’s a look at how the rest of the league might be faring at the NFL season’s halfway point:
- The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only remaining undefeated team with a record of 8-0
- Division leaders are as follows: Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, New England, Kansas City, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Los Angeles
- The NFC North is the only division in football without a team with a losing record. Minnesota is 7-2 at the top while Chicago is in last at 4-4
- There are no remaining winless teams. The Bengals, Jets, Bills, and Cardinals all have one win at the halfway mark
Week 10: Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears; November 11th 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Mitch Trubisky vs Darius Slay
Last season, Darius Slay had five total passes defensed and two interceptions against the Bears. Mitch Trubisky’s QBR in the two games against the Lions last year were 53 and 15 respectively. Unfortunately for their rookie QB, the Bears really didn’t try to make it difficult for opponents to smother their receivers last season. Yes, Kevin White was injured but their lack of depth was laughably bad. Dontrelle Inman against Darius Slay, who wins that matchup 90% of the time? This season they brought in Allen Robinson (a player I loved in college and was sure would be a steal if the Lions drafted him), Taylor Gabriel, and second-round pick Anthony Miller to add depth at wide receiver. Trubisky was able to keep the Bears in it at home last season, despite not having any weapons outside of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and the Lions needed a field goal in the final two minutes to win it. This worries me because, with a few decent receivers at his disposal, mediocre play might be all that’s necessary to beat the Lions at home. Chicago has a talented defense and as long as they can hold Matthew Stafford and company below four touchdowns, I think Chicago plays well enough at home to win just their second game against Detroit in the last five years.
Prediction: Detroit Lions 23, Chicago Bears 27
Week 11: Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions; November 18th 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Jarrad Davis vs McCaffrey/TEs
It’s the second year in a row that Cam Newton and the Panthers are making a trip to Ford Field. This time there likely won’t be talk of female reporters or of how the Panthers are off to a bad start, so Carolina should have a little more going for them headed into Detroit this time around. Despite the negative aura surrounding Carolina headed into last season’s game, it was riddled with all kinds of frustration on the Lions’ side. An early 10-3 lead for Detroit turned into the wrath of Ed Dickson and a lot of questions from me as I listened to a tight end, not named Greg Olsen, tear up the Lions defense. All signs point to Greg Olsen being completely healthy headed into the season which is a bad sign for the Lions in this game, but hey, Ed Dickson is gone. To this point, Jarrad Davis hasn’t shown an ability to cover TEs and HBs like he needs to be able to in the NFL. We will know how coach Patricia will address this after we see how the defense lines up for the New England game, but as of now it’s a wildcard whether Davis can handle these responsibilities or not. This game and the two surrounding it will be big in determining the Lions playoff fate, but I just don’t see them getting it done.
Prediction: Carolina Panthers 30, Detroit Lions 20
Week 12: Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions; November 22nd 12:30 pm
Key Matchup: Lions O-line vs Bears Defensive Front
For Lions fans, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. There’s nothing like gathering with family for a delicious meal and watching the Lions while Grandpa passes out and shouts SOL in his sleep. Jokes aside, Thanksgiving has been kind to the Lions recently and I don’t see this season’s matchup being any different. Both Detroit and Chicago come in and face each other for the second time in 11 days, but this just feels like a game that the Lions can’t lose. I know I shouldn’t say that, but I only see one way that the Bears can make this a contest. The Lions offensive line has to hold it’s own against Chicago’s pass rushers. Leonard Floyd is a scary man, but if the big guys up front can neutralize Floyd and his teammates to keep Stafford upright, the Bears defense will be on the field a lot and will tire. On the other side of the ball, Trubisky may get picked off by Darius Slay two or three times and the Ford Field crowd will play a large factor in what will be a miserable day for the Bears’ offense. Happy Turkey Hole Day Lions Fans!
Prediction: Chicago Bears 13, Detroit Lions 28
Week 13: Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions; December 2nd 1:00 pm
Key Matchup: Rams front 4 vs Lions O-Line
Although the Lions offensive line is part of my key matchup two weeks in a row, let me point out that this game, in particular, will be much more of a challenge. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh are enough to strike fear into the hearts of many, but throw in a few decent outside rushers and oh boy is Matt Stafford circling this game for some extra padding. It’s yet to be seen whether all the personas in the Rams locker room will mesh together. They could be an elite team or they could be a repeat of the Eagles Dream Team that stumbled to a 9-7 record not long ago. As of right now, we’re looking at a team with an elite defense and run game, along with a decent and improving passing game. Those attributes should get the Rams at least 12 wins this year in my opinion. The Lions have an outside shot to win this game, but three things have to happen and it’s a lot to ask.
- Jared Goff needs to have a bad game and by “a bad game”, I mean two or three picks and less than 225ish yards.
- Todd Gurley has to be held under four yards per carry and can’t get more than 50 receiving yards
- Matthew Stafford has to play out of his mind and his line has to keep him under three sacks
If those three things happen, then the Lions can win, but like I said, that’s a lot to count on.
Prediction: Los Angeles Rams 31, Detroit Lions 17
Cumulative record through 12 games: 6-6
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow @charleskelbel on Twitter, find me on Reddit at u/Char1es_In_Charge and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.