The Detroit Lions have somehow stayed under the radar despite overcoming the enormous issues the team has had so far this season. They lead the division and have earned it no matter how ugly it has been. I picked this team to take the NFC North this year and I am not backing down from that pick. Surprisingly, with Reggie Bush (missed 2 games) , Calvin Johnson (missed 3 games) , Golden Tate, and Matthew Stafford you would expect the offense to be prolific. Instead the Lions rank 25th in total offensive yards, 31st in rushing yards, and 24th in points per game. This offense should be much better than it has been, and despite many people pointing the finger at Stafford I believe there’s more people to blame for the struggles of the offense than just the quarterback. There has been horrible play-calling, all kinds of injuries, and the whole offense outside of Golden Tate looks lost. Without Calvin Johnson they look dazed and confused about what to do. “Megatron” is the most important piece to this offense and with him back look for the offense to start putting points on the board.
This year has been all about the defense for Detroit. A lot of analysts seem to believe the stats do not tell the story of who has the best defense this year, but I beg to differ. They rank 1st in total defensive yards, 5th in passing yards allowed per game, 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 1st in points allowed per game. You do not rank in the top 5 of every defensive stat and not be a legit stout defense. They held Aaron Rodgers to only 7 points which completely astounded me, and right when the Falcons looked like they might have found a groove the Lions did not allow them to score a single point in the second half in London.
With all the injuries that have been going around, there should be no reason why they hold the division lead. They lost all 3 of their tight ends at one point, Stephan Tulloch, a very solid MLB, took out his ACL this year in an embarrassing fashion, after celebrating for a sack that was not even his, Nick Fairley an important piece on the defensive front, Joique Bell missed a game. Even with those key injuries they are still sitting at the top of the division.
Ndamukong Suh is looking to leave this upcoming offseason, and seems like nothing will change his mind. It will be a huge hit to the squad with him out, because when he brings his A-game to the field there is not a single guy in the league on defense I would rather have than him. He is the guy drawing double-teams and opening things up for other guys to attack the quarterback. For them to ever win anything they must have Suh. And if this is truly his last year there they need to make the effort to make the most of this season.
The Chicago Bears have been a disappointment to everyone, and the Vikings lost their season as soon as Adrian Peterson stopped playing. This division will come down to the Lions and Packers. Both teams do not have an easy schedule going forward and it will come down to the last game of the season. The teams will face off in Lambeau Field in week 17 which undoubtedly will be a very important game for both teams. The Lions have shown they can stop Rodgers, and if they stay healthy I see no reason in why they cannot win in Lambeau.
The sky is the limit in Detroit, and even though I still have the San Francisco 49ers taking the NFC this year, I have a strong belief in this team. I have this feeling I got last year from the Seattle Seahawks (without that home-field advantage) who I had predicted would win the Super Bowl last season. The Lions have something I do not believe Seahawks ever had. They have a hall of fame receiver and a quarterback who can make plays down the field. If they can mesh the potential of an above average offense with a stout defense they will be the one team nobody will want to face in the Playoffs. Next week they face the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. If Carson Palmer truly does have a torn ACL, then the Lions will have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. If they do that they will be standing atop the entire conference and people would be asking the question, “Are the Lions the real deal?” My answer in short is yes, but to prove my point they have to win this upcoming game against the best team in football the Arizona Cardinals.