The Detroit Lions Have Shown Improvement Since Their Abysmal Season Opener Against The New York Jets And These Are A Few Of The Keys To Success After The Bye Week.
The Detroit Lions finished the opening stretch of the season 2-3. After an embarrassing loss at the hands of the New York Jets, Detroit managed to defeat the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots between their losses to the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.
While 2-3 isn’t exactly where Lions fans were hoping to be at this point when they looked at the schedule before the season kicked off, it’s certainly better than where it appeared they would be after we witnessed the lowly Jets dismantle this team on Monday night to start the season.
The Lions have done a number of things well, and they have struggled in a number of areas as well. The encouraging thing to remember is that this team looks significantly better than it did to start the season. With a brand new head coach in Matt Patricia, it was expected that the Lions would have some growing pains to start the year, but I don’t think anyone expected this team to come out as cold as they did.
Looking forward to the post-bye stretch, the Lions have a lot of very winnable games if they can continue improving.
Up next on the schedule is an overachieving Miami Dolphins team that currently sits at 4-2 despite having the 27th ranked offense and the 25th ranked defense. Coming out of a bye week, with an extra week to prepare, this is a game that the Lions absolutely should win. Ryan Tannehill is no sure thing to start at quarterback for the Dolphins as it stands, and an underachieving team led by quarterback Brock Osweiler is definitely a team that the Lions should be able to easily dispatch of.
Following what should be a win against the Dolphins, the Lions play the 3-3 Seattle Seahawks. The Lions have a few things working in their favor here. First, the Seahawks will be traveling to Detroit. In the previous four match-ups against Seattle, Detroit has only had home field advantage once. It was their only victory of those four games. Different years and different teams. I know, but Seattle is a tough place to play, and having this game in Detroit is a big deal. Second, Seattle is currently fielding the NFL’s 28th ranked offense. That helps ease the pressure on a defense that has been the weak link for the Lions thus far this season.
While the game against Seattle isn’t a “gimme” it’s definitely a winnable game.
The next game on the schedule is a tough one. The Lions play the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota week nine. The Viking’s 3-2-1 record doesn’t quite do the team justice. Their defense is far more talented than they have been playing, and I wouldn’t expect the defensive struggles to continue throughout the season. This is a game that I expect the Lions to lose.
Following the Vikings, the Lions travel to Chicago to play the Bears. It’s not ideal that the Lions play back-to-back road games against divisional opponents, but the Lions have fared very well against the Chicago Bears in recent history. The Bears usually keep the games close, and they are a much-improved team this year over last year, but I still expect the Lions to walk away with a win here.
The Lions face the Carolina Panthers in week 11. The Lions have really struggled against Carolina in the Cam Newton era, but they will get to play this one at home after their divisional road-trip. This is a game that I could see going either way, but Carolina’s third-ranked rushing attack against the Lions struggling run defense has me leaning in Carolina’s favor here.
In week 12, the Detroit Lions get their second game against the Bears in three weeks. They get this one in Detroit and, regardless of the outcome of their game in Chicago, I expect the Lions to continue to beat the Bears in Detroit. They haven’t lost to the Bears at home since 2012. I expect that trend to continue.
What looks to be the toughest game of the year for the Lions will be against the LA Rams in week 13. The Rams remain undefeated and currently sit atop the offensive production rankings. While this is a home game, it’s not easy to paint myself a picture of how this game falls in Detroit’s favor. This one might get ugly.
Luckily for the Lions, they follow up what looks to be their toughest game of the year with what could potentially be their easiest. They face off against the Arizona Cardinals in week 14. The game is in Arizona, but there is nothing about the Cardinals 31st ranked passing offense, their 32nd ranked rushing offense or their 24th ranked defense that concerns me. This should be an easy win for the Lions.
After what is likely a win against the Cardinals, the Lions get the Buffalo Bills. Rookie Quarterback Josh Allen has struggled so far this year, and I would expect that he continues to have growing pains. After facing the 32nd ranked offense in week 14, the Lions get the 31st ranked Bills offense. Their defense has been stout all year, but this is a favorable match-up for the Lions.
The Lions close out their season with a home game against the Vikings and a week 17 game in Lambeau against the Packers. The results of those two games will likely decide whether or not the Lions are a playoff team in 2018.
If it plays out the way that I expect it to, the Detroit Lions will be 8-6 heading into the final two weeks. It’s tough to say whether 9-7 will be good enough for a wild card spot this year, or what it will take to win the division, but I believe that 10-6 would be right in the thick of things. The Detroit Lions are going to have to win the games they should win and pull off a couple of games that I don’t expect them to in order to clinch a playoff spot.
That is definitely within the realm of possibility, but they have to play closer to how they did in the Patriots game than they did in the Jets game.