Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens strong safety James Ihedigbo (32) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Lions are an anomaly in both the numbers and their on-field performance.
More specifically, if you looked at the Lions’ stats (which you will momentarily), you’d think you were looking at a top-tier team. They have top five rankings in total offensive yardage, rushing defense, third-down defense and time of possession.
Their offense is one of the best in the league, and their defense is in the top half of the league in most areas.
Yet they sit with a 7-7 record, losers of four of their last five, and needing lots of help to make the playoffs. Here’s a look at their rankings through 14 games.
Detroit Lions’ NFL Rankings
All stats according to NFL.com
So yeah, as you can see, the Lions dominate this matchup statistically, and yet these teams are two wins apart in record, and the Lions are far from a sure thing to win this.
The Lions appear to do just enough to lose on a weekly basis, while maintaining a chance to win throughout the game. Their -13 turnover differential is a big reason for that, but it’s just a small subsection of the mistake-prone team the Lions have become.
Turnovers and bad decisions in key situations have been a hallmark of Lions football in the second half of this season, and in years before.
That’s how you take a team that can move the ball on offense and force punts on defense, and put them at 7-7. If there’s a silver lining this week, it’s that the Giants appear one of the only teams more mistake-prone than the Lions this season. If that keeps up, the Lions will have a shot to stay alive in the playoff race.
If not, then it’s time to start talking about draft position.
Detroit Lions Fantasy Corner
Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson (13) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
There wasn’t much about Monday’s game that could reasonably be referred to as “pleasant.” Realistically, the most pleasant surprise was the Ravens’ Justin Tucker. For the Lions, Reggie Bush had reasonable yardage and a rushing touchdown after being listed as questionable all week. It wasn’t anything special, but he hit his projections and didn’t fumble.
Calvin Johnson had six receptions for 98 yards, which probably shouldn’t be classified a “disappointment.” That’s a solid day, though not what we’re come to expect from Megatron. However, the disappointment is in Johnson’s two clean drops over the middle, either of which could have been huge gains or touchdowns. If he catches even one of those passes, his Fantasy day—and the Lions’ playoff chances—look a lot different right now.
Sleeper Pick for Week 16
Are you kidding? It’s championship week for most Fantasy leagues. Play your best players and don’t worry about sleepers. It’s crunch time. If you really want to go all in behind Joe Fauria, be my guest, but don’t blame me for the results.
With this week’s matchups likely to pivot on turnover numbers, it seems only right to focus on that here.
25 — Interceptions by Eli Manning in 2013
26 — Fumbles by the Detroit Lions in 2013 (14 lost)
12 — Of those 26 fumbles, number attributed to Matthew Stafford (4 lost)
5 — Of those 12 fumbles, number attributed to Matthew Stafford at Philadelphia
17 — Interceptions by Matthew Stafford in 2013
20 — Fumbles by the New York Giants in 2013 (13 lost)
13 — Interceptions forced by the Detroit Lions in 2013
6 — Interceptions by Lions LB DeAndre Levy (tied for NFL lead)
13 — Interceptions forced by the New York Giants in 2013
6 — Interceptions by Giants SS Antrel Rolle (tied for NFL lead)