Detroit Lions Control Destiny

Detroit Lions Control Destiny

If the Detroit Lions fail to win the 2016 NFC North title general manager Bob Quinn should begin interviewing head coaches. Okay, let’s step back. If there aren’t any major injuries to the roster (say, Matthew Stafford) and the Lions fail to make the playoffs then Quinn should fire Jim Caldwell and look for his successor.

The table is set for the Lions to return to the playoffs for the second time in Coach Caldwell’s tenure. This week they play the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, a team ready to boost the confidence of the Lions defense. The Jaguars average only 88 yards rushing per game. Quarterback Blake Bortles has throw 11 interceptions this season, including two unforced picks last week against the Houston Texans. And, the Jaguars average only 19.3 points per game, 27th worst in the NFL.

Defensively the Jaguars allow 26.6 points per game, 8th worst in the NFL. The defense gets much of the blame. Over the last four games, all of them losses, the defense has given up early leads and not forced a turnover in the last five games.

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After the victory versus the Jaguars the Lions play their biggest football game since their January 5th, 2015 controversial playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Minnesota Vikings, who have blown their 5-0 start by losing their last four game, will visit Ford Field on Thanksgiving day.

Is it possible the Vikings could play the Lions reeling from a five game losing streak? Vegas says it is as Sunday’s Vikings game against the Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) opened as a pick’em. 

If the Vikings lose to the Cards and the Lions hand them their sixth straight loss before their turkey dinner than Detroit opens a two game lead and will hold the tie-breaker against them for the division title. In essence, it’s a three game lead. Is that an insurmountable lead with five games to go in the schedule? No. But, its damn close to insurmountable. The biggest challenge is the three remaining road games on the Lions schedule: the Saints, Giants and Cowboys.

[graphiq id=”7GBlSAYGkN7″ title=”Detroit Lions 2016 Schedule” width=”400″ height=”841″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/7GBlSAYGkN7″ link=”http://nfl-teams.pointafter.com/l/21/Detroit-Lions” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

The Cowboys and Giants have each lost only one home game this season, 3-1 and 4-1 respectively. The Saints are 2-3 at their home digs. Even if the Lions win just one of those three road games they might be in good shape if the Vikings fall to the Cowboys in their December 1st game. (Don’t the Cowboys owe the Lions after that playoff game?)

But, what of the Green Bay Packers? They’re still in this race. Currently just one game back in the standings, the Packers have lost three straight games and four of their last five. In those four losses the defense has surrendered an average of 35 points a game. The Packers next two games are on the road against the 5-3 Washington Redskins and the 5-4 Philadelphia Eagles. Then they return home to face the 6-3 Houston Texans and the 6-2-1 Seattle Seahawks.

[graphiq id=”chnFipla5Ol” title=”NFC North: Touchdowns Scored & Allowed” width=”600″ height=”494″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/chnFipla5Ol” link=”http://nfl-teams.pointafter.com” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

The Packers’ defensive problems and schedule are just a couple of the obstacles Green Bay seems unable to hurdle. Since Eddie Lacy’s injury the team’s run game has become a mirage. They average a robust 4.6 yards per carry, but are 26th in rush attempts per game (22) because of injuries and playing from behind so often. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the team’s second leading rusher with 226 yards and has the Packers second most rushing attempts.

Injuries keep mounting. On Sunday left tackle David Bakhtiari went down and is considered day-to-day. More seriously, right guard T.J. Lang.could miss considerable time. Keep in mind that star player Eddie Lacy and Sam Shields are on injured reserve. If anyone of them comes back this season (only one can be activated) it won’t happen until December.

Add in the growing lack of confidence in head coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers no longer encouraging Packers fans to R-E-L-A-X and it is clear this team’s playoff chances are in serious jeopardy.

These Lions have a great opportunity before them. Succeed and coach Caldwell will have earned general manager’s confidence in him. Fail and Caldwell must go.

 

 

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.


Tags assigned to this article:
Bob QuinnJim CaldwellMatthew Stafford

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