Detroit Lions: Slow starts could hamper playoff chances
The Detroit Lions have spotted opponents 10-point leads in the first quarter of their past two games, and it could kill their playoff hopes.
Last year, the Detroit Lions were forced to come back in the 4th quarter to win eight games. The past two weeks, they’ve dug themselves a hole in the first quarter by conceding 10-point deficits to the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears.
These were considered games a playoff team should easily win. Now, we know every win in the NFL takes effort and no game is truly a “gimme”. But a winless Browns team and a Bears team at the bottom of the division should have been easier games than the Lions made them. Especially considering both opponents were fielding rookie quarterbacks.
The Lions can’t afford to keep spotting teams 10 points before they get going. And the team doesn’t have to look very far ahead to see an opponent that won’t let them back into the game after such a slow start. There’s an important game in two days against the 8-2, NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving.
The Vikings defense is stout. They’re ranked 5th in the NFL in points allowed this season and held the Lions to 14 points in the first meeting between these two teams in Week 4. If the Lions spot the Vikings 10 points, don’t expect it to be easy to close the gap very quickly.
Points will be at a premium during this game, assuming the Lions defense steps up. After giving up 200+ rushing yards in the past two weeks, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell believes that having faith will save the defense, according to Tim Twentyman and the Detroit Lions website:
"“I have faith,” Caldwell responded on detroitlions.com when asked about fixing the Lions’ run-stopping issues fixed this week. “We’ve done it before. It’s not like something that’s never been done.”"
Without Vikings running back Dalvin Cook in the lineup, the Lions catch a bit of a break in terms of the rushing attack they face on Thursday. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their work cut out for them.
The Lions did face Vikings quarterback Case Keenum earlier this season, but he’s developed more chemistry with his receivers throughout the season. That includes wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen who tallied 5 catches for 98 yards and 5 catches for 59 yards, respectively.
Next: Lions' playoff hopes hinge on Thanksgiving day win
It will be a battle, but the Lions have the home field advantage and a 4-game Thanksgiving Day win streak on their side. Let’s not forget about thriving quarterback Matthew Stafford and a healthy rookie wide receiving threat in Kenny Golladay that didn’t play in the first meeting this season. We’re forced to agree with Caldwell and have faith these Lions can pull out a win. Their playoff aspirations may depend on it.