They only get one bye a season, so they’d better make good use of it. I think the Lions were selected for the best week off this year: week nine. In the past decade, the Lions haven’t had a bye week beyond week seven except for in 2006 when they were off in week eight. Week nine is perfect for these guys because it’s exactly midway; they don’t have to stretch any part of their season extra long until they reach the post-season. Teams that took their byes back in week five or so will start to wear down in weeks 13, 14, etc. Hopefully, this break at the half is beneficial to the Lions come December when everyone’s running on tired legs and scraping for wins.
This week must not go to waste, and there’s a few things they should look at to make sure the second half of the season is as or more successful than their first.
Personnel: Detroit has the unfamiliar problem of having too many players that can produce, particularly on the defensive side. With the addition of safety Chris Harris, the Lions’ coaching staff will have to decide what pieces will make the best secondary. It seems likely that with Harris’s skill set, he would take over the strong safety spot for Amari Spievey, but that could be a difficult move to make. Spievey has had a solid season thus far and is a far cry from his first couple seasons in Detroit as a runningback-converted-safety. However, though his three interceptions look good on paper, most were a product of quarterbacks overthrowing their receivers while Spievey was sitting back in the zone. Harris is much more experienced and will be anxious to prove himself against his former team, the Chicago Bears.
Resting the injuries: This is pretty cut and dry; every team looks forward to the break not only to catch their breath, but to rest up some nagging ailments. Some of the less serious injuries that appeared on the Lions’ Week Eight Injury Report included Rob Sims (illness), Gosder Cherilus (knee), and Chris Houston (back). These are all injuries that should clear up on their own just with some rest. In the case of Matthew Stafford (ankle), the break couldn’t have come at a better time. Yes, he looked good and played phenomenally Sunday against the Broncos, but resting a for a portion of this week should take him off the week ten report completely. In the cases of Rashied Davis and Nick Fairley, another week only helps. Perhaps this will be the point in the season where Fairley is able to heal up enough to play out the rest of the season, although that’s not likely. Jahvid Best’s concussion has no timetable, but at least he won’t be missing a game this week and has a chance to come back in the next few.
Second half preparation and scouting: The majority of these Lions are new to the idea that there’s something to play for even in the month of November. How are they going to handle the increased pressure and demand of the second half of the season? Detroit is 4-0 on the road this season, but as the year progresses, playing away from Ford Field will get exponentially more difficult, especially at fields where weather is a factor (Lambeau). Their locker room leaders and coaches will be invaluable to their run after the bye.
Speaking of Lambeau, Detroit is well aware that they have to face the best team in the league twice in the second half. The Green Bay Packers are the only NFC North team the Lions haven’t seen so far this season, and you can bet that their scouts are paying close attention to them for when they meet on Turkey Day. If they want a win against the Packers, Thanksgiving at Ford Field is a much safer bet than waiting until their last game at Lambeau Field.