The Detroit Lions are relevant in December. In fact, they are in first place in the NFC North, have a 2 game lead over the Minnesota Vikings and hold the tie-breaker as they swept the Vikings this year.
Green Bay could make a run but face an uphill battle as they move into a tie for second place with the Vikings.
And for the first time this year, the Lions decided to win in a much more traditional fashion rather than wait until the 4th quarter, beating the New Orleans Saints 28-13. Granted, I am proud of that 7-1 record when trailing in the final quarter. But I felt much better the Lions got the lead in the first and never gave it up.
A great day for Stafford, the true leader of this team. 30 for 42 with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. The offense was methodical and time consuming, limiting the New Orleans Saints to only 23:08 while holding on to the ball for 36:52.
Golden Tate had a great day with 8 catches for 145 yards which included a sweet 66 yard touchdown catch on a critical drive in the fourth quarter to pretty much seal the game.
The running game, often the most criticized part of the Lions offense, gained a combined 85 yards with Zach Zenner leading the way with 44 yards. It was effective enough to keep the Saints defense honest.
And how about that defense! Intercepted Drew Brees 3 times while sacking him once. And pretty much made WR Willie Snead a non-factor while holding the Saints to a collective 51 yards rushing.
Let’s take a look at the Lions, Vikings and Packers games over the next four weeks. I’ll give my predictions for the record during that time. I do believe the Lions will get a home playoff game for the first time since 1991.
Detroit Lions – Could go 3-1 but most likely will go 2-2.
12/11 – Home against the Bears. This is going to be the easiest of the next four games and the Lions should have no trouble. The Bears are simply a mess. No offense since Cutler is yet again injured as well as WR Eddie Royal, both of whom appear to be out the rest of the year. I doubt that Cutler will be back as the QB of the Bears next year as they are going to be rebuilding.
12/18 – At New York Giants. This game is a toss-up. Giants are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now winning their last six games. But if the improving Lions defense can get to Eli, they can force him into mistakes. Lions have played well on the road this year and if they can stay close to the Giants into the fourth quarter, perhaps Stafford can do his thing and pull this one out.
12/26 – At Dallas Cowboys. If the Cowboys have the NFC East wrapped up, they may rest the starters. Cowboys have a heck of a defense and we Lions fans can be envious of their offensive line. Granted, the Lions do have a tendency to play the Cowboys tough as the Lions have an 11-12 all time record against the Cowboys. But this is a very tough Cowboy team and most likely, Jason Garrett will play his starters until the game is in hand.
1/1/17 – Home against the Packers. A statement game. Packers have broken the Lions fans hearts several times. I mean who could forget that Thursday night game with the hail-Mary with no time left on the clock last year. I want to see the Lions get out fast and just pour on the points and blow out the Packers. The Packers D is getting old and suspect and with the weapons the Lions have, it should be doable.
Minnesota Vikings – Vikings probably have the easiest schedule of the three teams but with the way they have been playing lately, I can’t see them doing any better than 2-2 even if Adrian Peterson comes back
12/11 – At Jacksonville Jaguars – Even this being a road game, the Vikings should be able to win this game. Jags are a pretty self destructive team and QB Blake Bortles leads all NFL quarterbacks with 15 interceptions. Vikings secondary is an opportunistic one and should get at least 2 picks. Vikings are third in the NFL with 12 interceptions on the year.
12/18 – Home against the Indianapolis Colts. Depends on which Colts team shows up as they are trying to stay alive in the AFC South. They are only a game back of the Texans and with a win Monday night against Jets, they are fighting for their playoff lives. So are the Vikings and both teams need wins.
12/24 – At Green Bay Packers. This is still Lambeau Field and while both teams are considered “cold weather” teams, I have to give the edge here to the Pack. Packers always seem to make a late season push. A win by either team doesn’t do much for the Lions but perhaps if both teams beat each other up enough, the Vikings could run the gas out of the Packers when they visit Ford Field the following week.
1/1/17 – Home against the Chicago Bears. Bears have nothing but pride to play for. And they would love nothing better than beat a division rival to keep them out of the playoffs. Vikings have a history of not closing the deal toward the end of the year. A win here by the Bears helps the Lions.
Green Bay Packers – Packers have a brutal schedule down the stretch and most likely will end up 1-3 but no better than 2-2.
12/11 – At Seattle Seahawks. These two teams have had some great games in recent years. However, I don’t see Green Bay winning in Seattle. Seahawks defense is getting healthier each week and the offense is starting to come around.
12/18 – At Chicago Bears. As with the Vikings, the Bears would like nothing better than to beat a division rival and keep them out of the playoffs. Bears have a better shot of achieving at home than opposed on the road against the Vikings. Hard as it will be, we have to be Bears fans for a couple of weeks. Don’t worry, there is plenty of Jamison’s to wash the bad taste out of our mouths,
12/24 – At home against the Vikings. Perhaps the only win the Packers get over the last 4 games. Packers will have a lot on the line and more often than not, come thru on big games.
1/1/17 – At Detroit Lions. As stated looking at the Lions schedule, this is a redemption game for the Lions. This is a statement game for Detroit and this time, the Green Bay Packers won’t be able to stop them.