Detroit’s Best Super Bowl Match-ups

Aug 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; A general exterior photo of Ford Field before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; A general exterior photo of Ford Field before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit’s Best Super Bowl Match-ups

First things first, the NFL had some major losses to injury yesterday, which is something no fan should wish for their team or opposing teams alike. Seattle’s Tylor Lockett, Tennesse’s Marcus Marriotta and, probably most devastating for their postseason hopes, Oakland’s MVP candidate quarterback Derek Carr. All are crucial to their teams and I wish them all the best for speedy and safe recoveries. Thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. That being said, what are Detroit’s best bowl match-ups for Super Bowl 51? The title is arguably still up for grabs in the NFC right now. This weekend has already and will continue to weigh heavily on the outcome. Playoffs are essentially a reboot, so no more records matter, no one’s regular season stats come into play. It’s all about what, or who is in front of you at that moment. Each of the AFC Divisions offers different challenges and opportunities. If today was Super Bowl Sunday, these are my picks for  the best matches from each conference.

AFC North – Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are underdogs but if they pull it off, they’ll find new life to start the postseason. Joe Flacco is one of two quarterbacks in the NFL today who seems to take on a different identity in the playoffs. He currently sits 18th in QBR for the season. Seems pretty abysmal, right? Considering Matthew Stafford is a full 10 spots ahead, the better QB seems obvious. However, Flacco consistently improves with every postseason berth, save one, and for the last two playoffs he averaged 82.65, now he looks pretty darn good. If the Lions can hurry Flacco in pass rush, he has to throw down field, and Detroit has some deep defensive playmakers. Ravens’ defense has been inconsistent lately, so Detroit can activate their run game and get themselves down the field as long as the O-Line does what it does and holds strong. The aerial attack might have different implications depending on the Ravens backfield. Eric Weddle and Ladarius Webb can change a game, but they recently had trouble with both the Patriots and the Eagles, losing to New England and barely squeaking by Philly.

Related Story: Flacco Playoff Stats

AFC South – Houston Texans

Before yesterday’s games, I would have told you it was a draw between the Titans and the Texans. Both are solid 8-6 teams, no better, no worse, but TN has been pushing harder and harder every week. They all but put the nail in Denver’s coffin, maybe one of the biggest games upsets of their season. Unfortunately for TN and their fans, Marcus Marriotta went down with a tough injury yesterday that we can only hope doesn’t keep him down long. Even when Titans were still a contender, Detroit would have been best to hope for Houston. With a new QB at the helm, Detroit can penetrate Houston’s O-Line often enough to pressure Tom Savage, and given how well Cincinnati was able to get to him, the Lions shouldn’t have much of a problem. The Texans defense has saved their games but the Lions’ offensive line has staying power and has proven they can stop a rush. No JJ Watt means Clowney and McKinney carry a bigger load and the load has weighed a little too heavy on them at times this season.

AFC East – Let’s face it. Anyone but New England

The Patriots have an uncanny ability to bump their players up to a stellar level just at the right times, which makes life horrible for almost all of their opponents. It would be a tough match for the Lions, as it would for anyone right now. Best case scenario would be if Miami could somehow unseat the Pats. The Dolphins have held up under pressure, but their defense hasn’t performed as it should on paper. Again, offensive line, protect Matt Stafford, and that would be a game the Lions could win.

AFC West – Oakland Raiders

What happened to Derek Carr is a devastating blow to Oakland. I myself almost cried a little because this team had a real opportunity to be contenders and now, it seems a long shot at best. Time and again, we hear this is the toughest division in football. and It’s true, they have 3 elite teams who, until the last couple weeks, were all contenders. They probably still have two, that will remain to be seen once Matt McGloin picks up the helm on Oakland. My pick was made before yesterday’s games and probably even more accurate now. The best match-up for Detroit between the Raiders and the Chiefs – The Raiders. The Chiefs’ defense has been consistent this season with moments that have been downright epic. While Oakland’s defense has been stepping up their game more and more in recent weeks, it’s simply been unreliable. Pass defense says it all. Detroit should try to neutralize the offense and give Stafford the chance to challenge Oakland’s spotty pass defense. This game will, in large part, depend on returning starters coming back from injury. If Derek Carr manages to somehow heal enough to feel secure playing by SB Sunday, it will be a game not of whose offense is better, but whose defense shows up to win. On paper and practically, Detroit’s defense wins that battle.

Related Story: QBR Standings

Super Bowl Champs?

The big game is something that Detroit can smell right now. No telling what will happen in the last two weeks of the season, especially after seeing the Giants lose to the Eagles and the injuries in the South and West divisions. I can’t say it enough how sad and difficult it is to lose such key players. Detroit’s best bowl match-ups are going to continue to fluctuate, and any of these can give the Lions a real shot at finally taking Mr. Lombardi home to meet Mr. Ford.

-Follow Andria on Twitter @Fandria7

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