So, who are the Detroit Lions, actually? It’s hard to tell from one week to the next what team is going to show up wearing the Honolulu blue. It’s like a random collection of players shows up wearing the same set of numbers each week.
The only things we can guarantee on Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens is that the fans will be loud (at least to start off), and there won’t be a massive blizzard inside the stadium. Beyond that, all bets are off.
The Lions are still sitting in charge of the playoff hunt in the NFC North, but it’s a contest that looks weaker with every game, and they did themselves no favors last week. There are no guarantees about the playoffs if the Lions lose another game, so that makes every one of the Lions’ final three games a “must-win”
You may recall that the 2011 Lions had similar issues with consistency, falling to 7-5 before running off three straight wins to lock up a playoff berth. They need another run like that right now, or things are going to get unnecessarily stressful.
Detroit Lions’ NFL Rankings
Win or lose, the Lions were probably looking at a slide in statistical rankings just because they played in the snow.
In sloppy conditions like those, you expect the offense — especially the passing game — to suffer. But that goes both ways, so one would expect the defense to improve, due to the opposing offense’s difficulty in moving the ball.
That didn’t happen. The Lions either fell or held steady in every area, and oddly enough, the passing numbers held pretty much steady, despite the blizzard conditions. There’s only so much the weather can be blamed for.
That brings us to this week. It would appear from this table that the Lions have a considerable statistical advantage. To an extent, they do. But they also have issues with consistency, which is why you can sort of throw the stat table out the window.
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Lions would be a heavy favorite in this game if stats and raw talent were the only factors. But they aren’t, and games aren’t scored based on potential. If the Lions are firing on all cylinders, with every player playing as well as their best game this season, they’d win this by 40.
We’re at a point where we can’t expect that, though. It’s impossible to tell which team will show up and who will stand out. The Lions have the talent to win, but the Ravens have the poise, experience, and consistency. That’s how they beat a bunch of teams with more raw talent than them in the playoffs last season.
Detroit Lions Fantasy Corner
Joique Bell had a decent day in the snow, mostly due to the absence of Reggie Bush. Bush’s health has been iffy all season, but there’s a much better chance of him playing now that he’s had an extra week (and a day) to rest and he gets an indoor game. Still, Bell is usually a good bet for a rushing touchdown, even when he doesn’t get as many touches as he deserves.
After an awesome catch in after which he (now famously) came up with a facemask full of snow, Calvin Johnson produced almost nothing in the blizzard conditions in Philadelphia. Really, that extends to Matthew Stafford and the rest of the passing game as well, but Johnson and Stafford were the most likely starts, assuming you were paying enough attention to pull Reggie Bush out of your lineup before the game started.
Sleeper Pick for Week 13
There are a couple reasons to believe in the Lions D/ST this week, not the least of which is the breakout game of one Jeremy Ross. Now, it’s unrealistic to count on two return touchdowns again this week, but that’s not the only reason to buy in. The Ravens (as you can see above) have one of the worst offenses in the league, and Joe Flacco can be a turnover machine at times. If you’re ever going to believe in the Lions’ defense, this is as good a time as any.
The playoffs are bearing down, so this is as good a time as any to take a look at some of the numbers surrounding the hunt for the NFC North crown.
1/2 — Number of games, along with some tiebreakers, separating the Lions, Bears and Packers in the divisional standings right now
15-25-1 — Combined record of Detroit’s remaining opponents
18-22-1 — Combined record of Chicago’s remaining opponents
19-22 — Combined record of Green Bay’s remaining opponents
3-2 — Bears’ record without Jay Cutler (Cutler is expected to return this week)
1-4-1 — Packers’ record without Aaron Rodgers (Rodgers is getting closer, but isn’t back yet)
1 — Games remaining between the Packers and Bears (Week 17)
3 — The Lions’ “magic number” as of this week (and last week, since the Lions lost and got no help)
0 — percent chance anyone can clinch the NFC North this week