Monday, December 16, 2013

Panic about the Lions? Why I don't think there should be

I fully under the skepticism about the Lions. They've lost three out of four games. The Ravens, who visit Ford Field tonight for Monday Night Football, are the defending Super Bowl champions, have been a playoff team forever and are playing their best football of the season.
It looked like the Bears and the Packers would lose Sunday. They both rallied from bad starts and won.
I still, however, feel like the Lions are in pretty good shape to win the NFC North. The Ravens are 1-5 on the road and haven't played a road game in an indoor stadium since early in the 2012 season - and they were beaten by four touchdowns at Houston.
Ray Rice is a terrific running back, but the Ravens offensive line isn't that good. Rice is averaging three yards a carry, his backup Bernard Pierce, 2.7 yards per attempt. Joe Flacco has been sacked 41 times and thrown nearly as many interceptions (17) as touchdown passes (18). The Ravens' defense is still stout against the run and not exactly a sieve against the pass. It ranks fifth in the NFL. But the Lions do have the weapons to counteract it
The keys are very obvious for the Lions here: Getting the lead early is particularly important in this game. The Ravens' offense is not built to be one-dimensional in any way, shape or form, especially within the screaming madness of Ford Field tonight. The second is taking care of the ball. Flacco has been every bit as loose with the ball this season as Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford. Avoid special teams breakdowns. The Ravens traditionally have had very good special teams. Yeah. David Akers with the game on the line is a concern. Don't let it get to that point, would be my advice to the Lions.
I see the Lions winning this game, and I understand what the reaction will be should they lose. But the schedule still sets up for them to make a playoff run if they were to lose because they own the tiebreaker over the Bears, and the Packers and Bears play each other the last game of the season.
But the wiggle room would be all gone - the Bears could win out and capture the division. If the Lions win tonight, they will be in the driver's seat, especially now that the walls seem to have completely collapsed around the Giants, who will visit Ford Field Sunday (Green Bay hosts Pittsburgh, Chicago is at Philly on Sunday Night Football this week).

Our Roundtable discussion Sunday on FOX 2 SportsWorks on the Lions" title="Fox 2 News Headlines">Fox 2 News Headlines


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