Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

Detroit Lions – These Guys Are For Real & In First Place!

Stafford:  One of the best QB's in the NFL!
Stafford: One of the best QB’s in the NFL!

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.

Go Lions!

 

Seattle Seahawks Win By A Hawk feather – Panthers up Next

What just happenend

I’m pretty sure that 95% of Seattle Seahawks fans was asking the same thing Archer was kicker Blair Walsh lined up for a 27 yard field goal, shorter than an extra point, and missed. It was a pretty sure thing seeing how Walsh had made 3 previous field goals of 22, 43 & 47 yards.

The snap was good, the hold was good and Blair Walsh, who had made 87.2% of his kicks this year, pulled it left. About the only thing that was “bad” about the kick was the laces of the football were facing Walsh when the attempt was made. This can cause some kicks to be erratic and might have played a part in it but Walsh wasn’t having any part of it.

He placed the blame solely on his shoulders. Teammates consoled him as he broke down. You can’t tell me that NFL is all business. This loss hurt the Vikings deep. Hopefully, they can take a page from the Seahawks and grow stronger from it.

Ah yes, the Seahawks, surviving the 3rd-coldest playoff game in playoff history. While I will give the defense their due, they played a fantastic game, the offense survived on individual efforts.

That’s not to say the Seahawk offense had totally fallen apart, that’s not the case at all. The offensive line run blocked well enough to allow Christine Michael to rush for 70 yards. But for the most part, it was individual efforts by Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

The first I point to is in the 3rd quarter. Hawks were at their own 20 yard line with a 3rd and ten. Wilson, out of the shotgun, drifted back in the pocket and threw high. Doug Baldwin, with a Viking on his back, came up with perhaps the best catch I have seen since the days of Steve Largent.

Baldwin went up, with his right hand extended and somewhat behind his head and brought the ball in. First down Seahawks!

The next play came from Wilson and rookie Tyler Lockett (who has not played like a rookie at all) in the fourth quarter. Seahawks had put together a decent drive and had 1st and ten at the Viking 40 yard line. Wilson, in the shotgun, was not prepared for the snap and it sailed over his left shoulder. Wilson chased it back in Seattle territory, picking it up at around the 47 yard line. He secured the ball, saw that no one was around him, scrambled to his right and found Lockett at the Viking 29-yard line.

It would have been a great play right there to pick up the first down but Lockett, with some veteran savvy, turned and ran to the left side of the field and turned up until he was driven out at around the 6 yard line. First and goal, Seahawks!

On second and goal, Wilson found Baldwin on the right of the end zone to put 7 on the board for the Hawks. Later, Steven Hauschka with 8:09 left in the game connected on a 46-yard field goal which turned out to be the game winner.

The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to be ashamed of on this game. They did all the right things to limit the Seahawk offense being on the field. They put pressure on Wilson and the cold, frigid air did the rest on his passes having them seemingly float in the air.

The Viking offense did its part as well, holding the ball for long stretches and building a 9-0 lead that in the game conditions seemed insurmountable to the Seahawks.

But then there are special players that seemingly find just the right time to create magic. Cue Baldwin, Wilson and Lockett.

There are some questions I have on some of the decisions that Pete Carroll made early in the game. For instance in the first quarter, the Hawks have the ball on the Viking 30 yard line with a 4th and 13. Instead of electing to attempt a 40-yard field goal, well within Hauschka’s range, they elected to go for it and completed a 7-yard pass to Fred Jackson.

Then, in the second quarter, Seahawks had gotten the ball to the Vikings 34 yard line and elected to punt instead of having Hauschka attempt a 44-yard field goal.

Hawks again had the ball on the Vikings 38 yard line and went with a punt instead of a 48 yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first half.

I know the conditions were brutal but I feel they left points on the field. Blair Walsh proved that a ball could be kicked from as far out as 47 yards and I think Hauschka as a better leg than Walsh.

As for heading to Carolina, the Seahawks are going to need a much better played game than what they showed against the Vikings. There is a reason that the Panthers went 14-1 during the season. However, Seahawk fans can take solace that the Hawks played them very tough in Week 6 and had the lead in the 4th quarter playing them at home.

Seahawks match up well with the Panthers and I suspect this will be a slugfest. Which it should be since this is for the NFC Division and the right to move on to the NFC Championship game.

Historically, the Seahawks have played well at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Since 2000, they are 3-2 there and the Hawks have an overall record of 7-3 against the Panthers. Over the last 4 games played in Charlotte, Seahawks are 3-1 and the score differential is only 4 points between these two teams.

I don’t see a low scoring game here however. Panthers led the NFL during the regular season scoring 31.2 points per game and the Hawks were in the Top 5, averaging 26.4. Defenses were close as well. Hawks allowed a league leading 17.3 points per game while the Panthers held opponents to 19.2 points per game.

It will be decided on who has the ball last I think. Perhaps 27-24 Seahawks on a Hauschka 50-yard field goal?

We’re just gonna have to wait and see, won’t we?

I’ll be writing a prediction of the Hawks/Panthers game later this week.

Stay tuned!

GO HAWKS!

Seahawks vs. Vikings – No Lynch? No Problem, Hawks Win 24-13

Hawks Vikings

I woke up this morning and grabbed the Seattle Times off the front porch, made coffee and amid the headlines about the Seattle Mariners retiring Ken Griffey Jr.’s number, my eyes drifted toward a small blurb about Marshawn Lynch not playing in tomorrow’s playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.

To be honest, I don’t think this will be a determent to the Seahawks.  Yes, it would have been nice to have Beast Mode behind Russell Wilson, with all of his playoff experience and his ability to rise to the occasion when needed.

But consider just how well the Seahawks have played (except for the Rams game) over the second half of the season without him and Jimmy Graham.  All they did was set franchise records for most yards in a season (6,058) and for the fourth time in team history, finished among the top four in total offense in the NFL.

The Seahawks have ridden Lynch to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them.   And while I appreciate the talent and drive that Lynch has on the field, I think the true identity of this team has come out in Russell Wilson.

Wilson went nuts in the second half of 2015.  Much of that came after the bye when the team made adjustments to the passing game in getting the ball out quicker from Wilson.  The result of that, Wilson was sacked only 15 times in the second half after getting dropped 33 times in the first.

Benefitting from Wilson’s excellent second half has been Doug Baldwin who has really come into his own, setting team record for most receiving TD’s in a season (14) and achieving 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Let’s not forget about Tyler Lockett who was drafted to upgrade the return game.  Not only has he done that but he also finished with 51 catches for 664 yards and six TD’s.  The Seahawks may have found the deep threat they have been seeking in this kid.  He has the talent to become one of the best receivers in the game.

Jermaine Kearse also has had a solid season with 49 catches for 685 yards and 5 TD’s.  But he also does the little things that allows other players to shine.  On crossing routes, he often frees up the other receiver in ways that he doesn’t get flagged for picking the defender.  He blocks well and has made some of the most clutch catches to keep drives alive.

The combined stats for the trio of Baldwin, Locket and Kearse is 178 catches for 2,418 yards and 25 TD’s.  I’m pretty sure that any team in the NFL would love that production from their wide receiving corps.

And it’s not like the rushing game was tossed out the window after Lynch went down and later when Thomas Rawls got injured.  In stepped cast-off Christine Michael and Bryce Brown along with Fred Jackson who has been good as a third down back.  And let’s not forget fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu who get the calls to either block on short yardage situations or leak out pass the defensive line to gain critical yardage in screen pass situations.

No Jimmy Graham or Luke Willson?  In steps Cooper Helfet and Chase Hoffman, both of whom had some clutch catches in the Arizona game.

So we don’t have Lynch…that’s OK, we have everyone else that will keep it going until Lynch is ready to play.

Let’s not forget that defense which for the fourth year in a row finished in the top five in the NFL.  They were second in total defense, giving up 291.8 yards a game, second in passing defense, allowing 210.2 yards per game and first in the NFL against the run, allowing a mere 81.5 yards per game.

The key to this game will be the same as it was when the Hawks beat the Vikings 38-7 in week 13.  Mitigate yards gained by Adrian Peterson and dare QB Teddy Bridgewater to beat them with his arm.

And all Bridgewater has to do is throw into the teeth of the Legion of Boom of Richard Sherman, Deshawn Shead, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.  That is if he has enough time avoiding the rush of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane and Bruce Irvin.

The weather isn’t going to factor into this game.  It will affect both teams the same.  What it will boil down to is overall talent between the two teams.  And while the Vikings defense is ranked 13th overall, the way the Seahawks offense has been clicking, they will wear them down with the run game and the short passing game.

I’m not afraid of the Vikings offense which finished 29th overall in 2015.  While they are ranked 4th in rushing (I mean come on, it is Adrian Peterson) they are ranked 31st in passing and 31st in receiving.

So what’s the focus going to be?  On Peterson, put at least two spies on him and try to create turnovers.  Peterson has fumbled 7 times this year, losing 3 of them.

I’d put Bobby Wagner on him first and second down and have Bruce Irvin cover him on third down if he comes out of the backfield.  Wagner is a sure tackler and Irvin has the speed to stay with Peterson and isn’t bad in coverage.

That is if Peterson can get past the road block of Brandon Mebane or Aythyba Rubin up the middle or if he can get around the corner and avoid Bennett and Avril.

Looking forward to this game as the Seahawks will beat the Vikings 23-13.

GO HAWKS!

12th man flag

 

Seattle Seahawks Must Play Championship Football vs. Cardinals

Seahawk Shining

I know the headline is an obvious statement but it needs to be said.

When the Seahawks enter the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals, it has to be as though they are playing in the Super Bowl.

We as fans, need to stop worrying about the offensive line and what the defense gives up.  Nothing we can do about it anyway.  But if there was ever a time this city needs to rise above any doubt about the Seahawks, now is the time.

The 12’s are what’s gonna get this team the lift they need to make their 3rd straight Super Bowl appearance.

I know, the shoddy showing they had against the Rams makes it difficult.  But this team has always had a rough time against the Rams, which has a very good defense and now looks like they have a marquee running back in Todd Gurley.

We also know that the Seahawks, at least over the last few years, rarely lay an egg two weeks in a row.

They march into Phoenix to face a Cardinal team that is the number one offensive team in the NFL.  The Hawks have some solace in the fact when they played them in Week 10 and were down 22-7 at the half, they came back against this team to take a 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.

It is my belief the reason why the Hawks lost this game is because the defense was gassed.  They played their hearts out to hold down the offensive juggernaut known as the Cardinals until 1:48 left in the game when Andre Ellington ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run that sealed the game.

Despite the loss, the Seahawks went on a record setting 5-game stretch to vault themselves into playoff contention, beating the 49’s and Steelers at home, Vikings and Ravens on the road and then dismantling the Browns at home before self-destructing against the Rams last week.

Right now, the Seahawks are the Number 6 seed going into the playoffs.  That points to heading to hallowed ground, facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.  Perhaps not the best scenario but not the worst either.  Seahawks and Packers have had games filled with controversy and while going 4-6 against them over the past 10 games, the point differential between the two teams is 12 points over that span.

Another possible opponent would be the Minnesota Vikings of which the Hawks have a 6-4 record over the past 10 games.  The last game played between these two teams was the Week 13 38-7 blowout in Minnesota.   They focused on stopping Adrian Peterson and dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat them.  The result was holding Peterson to 18 yards on eight carries and the only reason the Hawks didn’t shut the Vikings out was the 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter.

The third possible playoff opponent would be the Washington DC based team.  They have a 4-6 record against them over the last 10 games but have beaten them twice at FedEx Field in Landover, including a 24-14 playoff victory in 2013.

Regardless of who the Seahawks play in the opening round, the Seahawks cannot take this game against the Cardinals lightly.  Pete Carroll has stated in the press they are looking at this game as a championship game and won’t be holding anything back.

Hawks are going to have to rely on Christine Michael, Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson to get the running game going as well as QB Russell Wilson using his legs to keep the Cardinal defense honest.

The offensive line will need to get back to the caliber of play during that 5 game stretch and allow Wilson the time he needs to connect with receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Cooper Helfet, Tyler Lockett and perhaps Anthony McCoy.

The defense will need to get through the Arizona O-Line and make Carson Palmer uncomfortable.  Sacks would be good but I am looking for the Hawks front four to get him off his spot and force him into making bad decisions which would play into the heart of the Seattle D, the Legion of Boom.

It’s going to be a good game and I don’t see Bruce Arians pulling any of his starters to save them for the playoffs…unless the Seahawks put the game out of reach by the 4th quarter.  As much as I would love that scenario, I don’t see it happening.

But I do see a Hawks victory, 38-35 with Steven Hauschka kicking the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock.

GO HAWKS!

NFL Crowns Detroit Lions as Champions – In 1957

FreePressLionsWin

Going into the 2016 season, it will be 59 years since the Detroit Lions have won an NFL championship.

To put things in perspective, and I know there are a lot of people in the same boat, I will be turning 58 in 2016 without ever seeing the Detroit Lions win a championship.

Want to know what the trophy looked like last time they won?  Here you go:

Ed Thorp Trophy

It was called the Ed Thorp Memorial trophy.  Who was Ed Thorp you might ask?  He was a referee, rules expert, sporting goods dealer and a good friend to the NFL owners during the early years.

You aren’t going to find this trophy in a case of any of the teams that won NFL championships from 1934 through 1969 because there was only one trophy.  It was passed each year to the teams that won, much like how the Stanley Cup is in the NHL.

There are replicas of the trophy but the original’s location is unknown.  The last recipient, the Minnesota Vikings in 1969 somehow lost it when the NFL went to the Lombardi Trophy in 1970.  It is also believed to have cursed the Vikings as they being the last winners…and they went on to appear in 4 Super Bowls and lost them all.

Since 1957, the Lions have not gotten back to the big dance.  To be honest, I’m not all sure as to why.  Yes, there were some bad general managers and presidents that ownership stayed loyal far longer than others would have.  However, the phrase “even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while” comes to mind.

I don’t write this to bash the Lions players or coaches.  I am fairly certain that each of them has a desire to win.  However, having a desire with little talent to do so, that’s something different.

Each of us Lions fans can count numerous coaches and players that while had a desire to win, had no business being in the NFL.  Marty Mornhinweg, Joey Harrington & Titus Young are just a few that come to mind.

Years ago, when I was writing for the Bleacher Report, I had speculated as to which team between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns would get to the Super Bowl first.  Ironic that these two teams have waited in futility for decades, the Lions looking at 6 and the Browns  just a little over 5.

What holds true then and now is that these two teams are the oldest teams in the NFL to have never played in a Super Bowl.  Cleveland perhaps would have gotten there in the 1980’s were it not for the Denver Bronco’s and John Elway.

The Lions best opportunity to date was in 1991, the last year the Lions won a playoff game.  They were one game away from getting to the Super Bowl and after blowing out the Dallas Cowboys at the Pontiac Silverdome 38-6, they reverted to kittens the following week and were blown out by eventual Super Bowl winner, Washington.

No, there will be no re-hashing the ineptness of the front office for the past 5 decades, we all know what the issues are there.

What I do want to stress is that the Lions, as an organization, owe it to their fans, in Detroit and all over the world, to put together a team that must have one focus in mind…from the owner down to the ball boy, to get to the Super Bowl and win it.

The other professional teams in Detroit have done their best to mollify Detroit Sports fans, the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons have all gone on to win World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Championships numerous times since the Lions last won an NFL Championship:

Tigers – appeared in 4 World Series, winning 2 of them, 1968 and 1984.

Red Wings – Appeared in 9 Stanley Cups, winning 4 of them.

Detroit Pistons – Appeared in 5 NBA Championships, winning 3.

Is it too much to ask Lions ownership to get us one?  Don’t hand me that crap that the NFL is very competitive.  MLB, NHL & NBA has just as fierce of competition as the NFL does.

How do teams like New England, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle consistently get into the playoffs and Super Bowls and win?

Detroit Lions have the same access to college players and free agents that these teams do, right?

I believe the issues is one of lack of vision…at the top.  Martha Ford may be the elixir to get the Lions pointed in the right direction.  She shook the team to the core by firing Millen left overs Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand.

She also made a smart decision by hiring Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to find a GM for the Lions.  The search won’t really begin in earnest until after the Super Bowl and there are plenty of candidates to approach.

But what will make the Lions attractive to the next general manager?  Will they have the power and authority to do what it will take to put together a Super Bowl team?

And what of the current status of players?  Will Calvin Johnson be used to accumulate draft picks?  Will Matthew Stafford be that QB that all of us hope he would be when drafted in 2009?  Will the Lions ever have a potent running attack?  An offensive line that will open holes and pass block?  Will they have a good defensive team and a good offensive team at the same time?

There are more questions than answers at this point.  And I can only watch from afar and continue to support my Lions as I have been for as long as I can remember.

Right now, I turn my attention to my second hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks and hope they can find the magic and get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight time.

Go Lions!  Go Hawks!

 

 

Detroit Lions – I Gotta Believe!

Roaring Lion

The most wonderful time of the year?  It ain’t Christmas baby…it’s the start of a new NFL season!

And yet another hopeful and optimistic start for my hometown Detroit Lions.

There have been a lot of changes to the Lions, most notably the departure of Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins.  While I was sad to see him go since he was such a disruption on the defensive line, part of me thinks his leaving will be a good thing in the long run.

Also gone are fellow defensive tackler Nick Fairley, running back Reggie Bush and offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds.

Its too bad Reggie Bush didn’t pan out with the Lions as we all hoped he would.  He showed flashes of brilliance during his time here but injuries caught up with him and he was never able to bring consistency to the running game.

New additions are defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to replace Suh as well as three other defensive tackles Corey Wooten, Tyrunn Walker and rookie Gabe Wright.  Rookie CB Alex Carter comes in to the secondary with some high expectations.

On the offensive side of the ball to help Stafford is highly touted rookie running back Ameer Abdullah who, along with Joique Bell, should give the running game some credibility.

To bolster the offensive line, Manny Ramirez comes back to the Lions after four years with the Denver Broncos along with rookie Laken Tomlinson.  The O-Line showed some promise in the run game during the pre-season.  As for protection in the passing game, I think once the O-line gels, they will be OK.  That and along with the work that Stafford has done to get rid of the ball quicker should help mitigate the sacks.

Lions have two legitimate Pro Bowl wide receivers right now, the incredible Calvin Johnson as well as the tough Golden Tate.  With Lance Moore coming on to give even more veteran savvy, I don’t see any issues there…just need to stay healthy!

How Brandon Pettigrew stays on this team is beyond me.  But he must be doing something right.  He is a good blocking tight end and has had some good receiving games but not really someone you can count on in the clutch.  I think Stafford will look more toward Eric Ebron in clutch situations.

In most of the pre-season predictions, I have seen the Lions having a single digit win season, anywhere from 6-10 to 9-7.  My gut tells me that the Lions could be the surprise team in the NFL this year and the win total could go as high as 12 games.

Key games:

10/5, Monday night in Seattle – Huge test in a very hostile environment.  I don’t think they can have the talent to pull it off here but I do believe they play the Hawks very tough.  Why have this as a key game?  It prepares them for going into Lambeau to get that fricking monkey off their backs.

10/25, at home against Minnesota –  Despite the Vikings 7-9 finish last year, many pundits have them vaulting over the Lions to a double digit win season this year.  Yes, I know that AP is back but historically, the Lions have contained him pretty well.

11/15, at Green Bay – It has been nearly a quarter century since the Lions posted a victory at Lambeau.  If the Lions want to have any shot at getting by the Packers, they need to sweep them and a victory here would give them momentum to have back to back playoff appearances for the first time since the 1990’s.

11/26, Thanksgiving Day at home against Philadelphia – Turkey Day is always key.  And it isn’t going to be easy against the fast-paced, Chip Kelly offense.  Lions have to take care of business at home and a win on Thanksgiving always gives us Detroit Lions fans a better Thanksgiving, right?

As for the playoffs, when the Lions get there, I see them getting to the NFC conference game against the Seahawks.  And unfortunately, that’s where the run will end but this will cap off a great season and hopefully build for 2017.  If this nuclease can stay in place, then the Lions are in the Super Bowl next year.

Here is to a great season!

Lions Should Be Ashamed – There Is Hope Though

Ashamed Lion

That was pathetic.

Lions may not have been able to beat the Patriots in Foxboro…but they could have at least made them a little nervous.

But no, the Lions vaunted defense tucked their tails between their legs, looked to U of M alumni Tom Brady and said “Thank you sir!  May I please have another?”  And Brady was more than willing to keep hammering the Lions defense all day long.

And what of the offense?  Lions Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi reduced the number of plays by 20%…and by the looks of they way the Lions offense played, they reduced their effort by about 20% as well.

Despite this demoralizing loss and the fact they gave first place to the Green Bay Packers (who just beat the Vikings 24-21), the Lions are still in a good position to get into the playoffs.  And they have an outside chance to take the division if they can get a little luck.

The Lions have five games remaining, the next three at home:

Thanksgiving:  Bears – Yeah, I know.  The Bears have played decently the last two weeks and have an outside shot at slipping into the playoffs.  But they just don’t have the defense needed to get there.  Lions will (and really need to) explode and I see a 45-19 win.  (I predict this because I am no fan of the Bears…and even less a fan of Bears fans).

12/7 – Buccaneers –  I have never liked Tampa Bay.  Most of it stems from when they were part of the old NFC Central.  Whenever the Lions needed a win to stay alive for a playoff run, it always seemed the Bucs were in the way.  Lions should easily win this game, 24-7.

12/14- Vikings – A young team and the Lions handled them relatively easy with a 17-3 win back in October.  But that was when Matt Cassel was the QB.  Teddy Bridgewater, though it not showing in the win/loss column, can move the team and get them into the end zone.  But the overall inexperience of the team and lack of a running game, Lions will prevail 28-14.

12/21 – @ Bears – Ah yes…Soldier Field, perhaps one of the best places to play a football games.  Too bad it’s always filled with the worst fans in the league.  Lions have showed some moxie with three come from behind wins and I think with riding a 3 game win streak, Lions will pull another win out with their 4th come from behind win…and Calvin Johnson will win it with a last second TD…and he will complete the process to preserve a 28-27 thriller.

12/28 – @Packers – The last time the Detroit Lions won at Lambeau Field was December 15th, 1991.  Matthew Stafford was three years old.  While every fiber in my being would love to see the Lions end this streak on this day, funny things always seem to happen the Lions when in the Land of Cheese.  But the loss here puts the Lions at 11-5 and hosting a wild-card game at Ford Field.

Granted, this a best case scenario.  And with Green Bay’s schedule, they could be 1 game back with the Lions when they meet.  Packers have the Patriots and Falcons at home (I see a split here), on the road against the Bills and Buccaneers (maybe another split with a loss to the Bills).

That would have Green Bay with a 10-4 record playing an 11-5 Detroit Lions.  Again, best case scenario but it would have the Lions in the driver’s seat.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?