Detroit’s 27-24 loss at home to the Panthers was frustrating to watch. But did it really tell us anything about this team that we don’t already know?
Obviously, there is still a ton of ball left to be played this season. Hot starts can be derailed just as fast as slow starts can get back on track. With that said, five weeks in, the slightest hint of a pecking order seems to be establishing itself in the NFC.
After a disappointing showing (and ultimately empty near-comeback) against the Carolina Panthers, the Detroit Lions‘ place in this order looks crystal clear.
Lions know who they are
Spoiler alert: the Lions are pretty much right where all the experts (and non-experts like me) figured all along. Having played teams at the very top and bottom of this proto-pecking order, Detroit for now has settled somewhere in the upper middle.
There appear to be three really good teams in the NFC right now. Atlanta (3-1) and Carolina (4-1) are two of them, with Green Bay (4-1) as the third. I’m not convinced that Philadelphia (4-1) is a really good team. Similarly, I’m not convinced that Dallas (2-3) isn’t one.
At the moment, there are also three NFC teams who have demonstrated themselves to belong firmly at the bottom. San Francisco and the New York Football Giants (both 0-5), as well as Chicago (1-3, about to start a rookie QB).
That leaves the remaining ten teams in the conference (including the Lions) falling somewhere in middle. With two losses against the really good teams, a win against a bottom-dweller, and two wins against the ‘everyone else’ category, Detroit’s current position is clear. Upper middle.
The frustrating thing about Sunday’s 27-24 loss (other than losing 27-24) is that it tells us nothing new about this year’s Lions team.
We already knew that they’re pretty good, but definitely not great. We already knew they’ll be fighting for a playoff spot, but there’s nothing given either way.
The offense disappears for long stretches of most games. Yawn. Frantic 4th quarter comebacks each week are not a sustainable option. Duh. Forcing turnovers on defense is much better than not forcing them. Uh-huh. Eric Ebron just can’t seem to catch a pass when they need one. Errh.
They say you learn more from a loss than you do from a win. If that’s true, then Sunday’s game was an exception to the rule. I can’t say that I really learned anything new about the 2017 Detroit
Lions from that one. They are who we thought they were.
Breakout Star of the Week: Darren Fells
The football gods were smiling upon backup tight ends at Ford Field this week. The true star of the game was Ed Dickson of the Panthers, filling in for the injured Greg Olsen. Dickson had more receiving yards in the first half than he had in all of 2016 combined, finishing with 175.
On the Lions’ side, Darren Fells nearly helped steal a comeback win in an otherwise clunker of game. With two fourth quarter touchdowns, the ‘blocking specialist’ tight end may have just rewritten his job description moving forward. Especially considering that those two touchdowns equal the last year and a half of scoring output from Eric Ebron.
Stafford is getting crushed lately
That’s 12 sacks in the past two games and 18 on the season already. What happened to the revamped offensive line? Stafford’s hand, ankle, and thigh all look pretty beaten up right now, and he is currently listed as ‘questionable’ for next Sunday’s game at New Orleans. If the last 101 games are any indication, there’s no ‘questionable’ about it, Stafford will play.
However, something has to give. you can’t take that type of beating week after week. The O-line/Jim Bob Cooter either figures out a way to protect this dude, or he misses significant time very soon.
Each of the past two seasons, the Lions have brought their A-game to the Superdome, leaving with easy W’s both times. If they remain who we think they are, they should get another road win next Sunday and enter the bye week at 4-2. With Pittsburgh and Green Bay looming on the other side of the bye, getting a win here would be huge.