Wednesday, September 10, 2014

For the Lions, the test really begins in earnest this week

Everything that could go right, went right for the Lions during their season opener vs. the New York Giants Monday Night at Ford Field.
But was it because the Lions were that good or the Giants that bad? Obviously, the Lions, with more weapons offensively and healthy, were better prepared for this game than late last season when they suffered an epic collapse in a loss to the Giants. However, offensively the Giants are just terrible. Their revamped defense is not outstanding, either. It's been awhile since their Super Bowl titles for the Giants.
The Carolina Panthers on the road this week present a much more difficult challenge for the Lions. The Panthers won 12 of their final 13 regular season games last season, finished 12-4 and made the playoffs.
Calvin Johnson, Lions: Schedule gets much tougher
They won a division road game last Sunday at Tampa Bay without multi-dimensional QB Cam Newton, who will be back this week. The Panthers led the NFL in sacks last season with 60. Their defensive ends, Greg Hardy (15) and Charles Johnson (11) both hit double digits in sacks last season. Linebacker Luke Kuechly is genuinely great player. He was in on nine tackles, had a sack and forced a fumble on Tampa Bay's late drive to try to tie the game last week. Rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State, the Panthers' first round draft pick from Florida State, is a top candidate for Rookie of the Year.
This also a road game, on natural grass, in a very hostile environment. The forecast is suggesting rain. If the Lions were to win this week, it would be a more genuine sign they are turning the corner. Also, Green Bay at home the following week is another pivotal game.
Given the Lions end this season with road trips to Chicago and Green Bay, getting off to a fast start is of paramount importance.


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