There are a lot of reasons to still be optimistic regarding the 2017 Detroit Lions and the road to a playoff birth begins Sunday night.
Predicting a playoff birth for this Detroit Lions team is not a hot take. With the state of the division, the remaining schedule, and development of some key contributors the Lions are, as my man Larry David would say, looking prettayyyy prettayyyy good in the NFC North. As a matter of fact it would be foolish to believe otherwise.
One of the biggest reasons for optimism surrounding the Lions is that our quarterback is still standing. Despite taking some serious punishment Matthew Stafford is relatively healthy. Unlike the other contenders in the division Detroit is not relying on a backup quarterback.
Simply through attrition the Lions have been given a major leg up on the rest of the NFC North. Coming off the bye I expect Jim Bob Cooter and Stafford to get back on track and help this team ascend to the top of the NFC North.
Detroit’s schedule looks very favorable the rest of the way. The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town this weekend, but after that they are looking at nine winnable games. Matchups against the winless Browns, two against rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and at least one against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers all look like wins.
The Lions also get the Vikings at home on Thanksgiving, which I expect to win and have road games against the Ravens, Buccaneers, and Bengals which don’t look insurmountable. I expect Detroit to win ten games and I believe the worst case scenario is eight or nine wins, which could still have them in the playoff mix.
While it’s been an up and down season for the Lions you can see that the young players are developing. A’Shawn Robinson is looking like a perennial Pro Bowler at defensive tackle, Miles Killebrew is a heat seeking missile, and Jamal Agnew has two punt return touchdowns while the rest of the NFL has three combined. Anthony Zettel has really stepped up at defensive end and these young guns selected by Bob Quinn have become major contributors in their sophomore seasons.
This was the year Detroit finally had the pieces to exert their will on opposing defensive fronts. After what feels like decades (probably because it has been decades) the Lions’ weakness at offensive line was going to be a strength.
But, after some critical injuries the offensive line has been a problem, especially in pass protection. Stafford needs time and while his escapability and mobility have improved he can’t be expected to be Houdini out there. There is good news on the horizon though, the offensive line can’t get much worse and it looks like Taylor Decker may return soon. Woop woop!
So there you have it. There are a lot of reasons to still be optimistic regarding the 2017 Detroit Lions and the road to a playoff birth begins Sunday night. Bring on the Steelers.