Detroit Lions: Updated Game-by-Game Outlook for 2012
The Detroit Lions are in a very tough spot through five weeks of the NFL season, and their outlook is pretty bleak. They have not played very well and have a 1-3 record. They are coming off of their bye heading to Philadelphia for Week 6. The Lions are lucky, as a thrilling comeback in Week 1 gave them their only win. they could be 0-4.
The Lions are in a must-win situation far too early in the 2012 season, a season that certainly has not started the way they wanted it to. They play tough games throughout the rest of the regular season and are in a situation where a loss over the next few weeks causes them to slip too far from playoff contention.
Let's go through the rest of their schedule on a game-by-game basis and break down the matchup to determine what the Lions' chances are of winning each of their remaining games.
Week 6: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
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The Lions travel to Philadelphia in Week 6, and they face a very good Eagles team that isn’t playing their best football right now. The Eagles have a few potent playmakers on offense, and the Lions need to play their best defensive game to have a chance to win this game.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is a matchup nightmare for the Lions, as he has incredible ability to escape from a collapsing pocket to slide out the back door and run the ball for chunks of yardage. The Lions defensive line must not be over-aggressive, and they need to play disciplined football.
Running back LeSean McCoy is one of the more potent backs in the NFL, and the Eagles have a pair of very dangerous wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. The Lions need to tackle well and limit the big play from this trio.
On offense, the Lions need to make plays in the passing game, and they need to take advantage of the turnover, as the Eagles are prone to turning over the ball. The Lions need to play one of their better games on offense if they are to hang in the game with the Eagles and ultimately have a chance to win.
Week 7: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
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The Lions travel to the windy city for a Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. This is a gigantic NFC North grudge match between teams that don’t like each other and teams that most thought would be battling for a playoff spot.
The Bears have lived up to their end of the deal, as they have a 4-1 record coming off of their bye. The Bears feature a very good quarterback in Jay Cutler, a big-play receiver in Brandon Marshall and a very powerful running attack with Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
The Lions will come into this game needing a win against an NFC opponent. Their defensive line must get back to its dominant physical ways, or this game could get ugly.
The Lions offense must keep pace with the Bears, and they can’t turn the ball over. If running back Jahvid Best returns, it will give the Lions offense an enormous boost, as his speed changes the way defense have to play the Lions.
This will be a heated football game that the Lions need to win, and they must play well for that to happen.
Week 8: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions
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The Seattle Seahawks travel to Detroit in Week 8 to take on the Lions. The Lions get a break by getting the Seahawks at home instead of playing them in Seattle. The Seahawks are one of the league’s tougher teams to face on the road.
The Lions should be able to handle the Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. They will need to smother Wilson and force him to throw the ball early, and they will need to limit running back Marshawn Lynch’s production.
The offense must take advantage of the Seahawks defense by using their speed to beat the bigger cornerbacks that the Seahawks have. This is a game that will be won or lost on the game plan that the Lions draw up on offense.
Week 9: Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Lions travel to Jacksonville in Week 10 to take on the Jaguars. This is one of the games on the schedule that the Lions are looking at as a win, but they can’t be complacent, or the Jaguars will literally run over them with running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The Lions need to tackle well and limit the running game.
The Lions should be able to force quarterback Blaine Gabbert into some bad throws, and they need to take advantage of the mistakes that the Jaguars make. They must take the turnovers they create and convert them into points and punish the Jaguars.
The offense must be efficient against the Jaguars. This won’t be a high-scoring game, but this game should never be in doubt for the Lions. They must win this game, as this one of the few on the schedule that could be considered an automatic win. This is also what makes it dangerous, and the Lions need to play well to win this game.
Week 10: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
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The Vikings host the Lions in a matchup of teams that saw each other in Week 4, a contest that the Vikings won 20-13. The Vikings beat the Lions with big kickoff and punt returns. Both returns went for touchdowns, and the Lions simply could not make enough plays on offense to catch up.
The Vikings are a younger team that is rebuilding, but they are pretty competitive and they have enough weapons on offense to make teams pay. Quarterback Christian Ponder, running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Percy Harvin are all players that can make special things happen.
The Lions must do a better job of preventing the big play on special teams. They also need to make more big plays on offense and take advantage of the mismatches that exist in the Vikings secondary. This game hinges on the play of the Lions offense and the ability of the Lions defense and special teams to prevent the big play.
This is another critical game that the Lions will play against an NFC North opponent, and if the Lions are in a situation to turn their season around, they must win this game.
Week 11: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
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This game will tell the tale of the Lions season. The Lions host the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 in an NFC North matchup of teams that could be battling for playoff position. The Packers are expected to string a few wins together, and if the Lions have done the same, this will be a great matchup.
The Packers have the ability to be a dominant offensive team, but they have looked shaky through the first five weeks of the season. The Packers offensive line is preventing them from making big plays on offense, as it is not giving quarterback Aaron Rodgers any time.
The Lions must follow the blueprint and make Rodgers uncomfortable if they are to have any hopes to win this game. This will be a game dictated by bug plays from both offenses, and the Lions must do their part. They need to put points in the board and keep pace with the high-flying Packers offense.
This is going to be a very tough test, but it is a game the Lions can win if they play well.
Week 12: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
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The Houston Texans come to Ford Field for a Thanksgiving Day game in Week 12. This is going to be a very stiff test, as the Texans have opened the season 5-0. They are a formidable team on offense and defense and will present a unique set of challenges for the Lions.
The Texans are a run-first team, and the Lions have to prevent running back Arian Foster from running all over them. This will be a tough test, as the Lions will have to tackle well, but while they are trying to stop the run, they must prepare for the play-action pass.
The Lions offense needs to prepare for J.J. Watt and company. Watt is an athletic marvel at defensive tackle, and he poses a big threat to the Lions offense. The Lions must hit the Texans with the running game and a little play-action of their own to keep the defense honest.
This will be an interesting matchup to watch play out, as the Lions host one of the league’s best teams. It is another tough test in a very tough part of the schedule. The Lions might need to win a few of these tough games if they are to have any playoff hopes.
Week 13: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions
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Lions fans will get their first look at rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 13 as the Colts travel to Ford Field to face the Lions. Luck has some incredible skill and is a player that the Lions need to pressure early and often. They can’t give him too much time in the pocket or they will get exposed.
The Lions defensive line should dictate what the Colts are able to do on offense, and it could be a good day for the Lions defense. If the defense can get home, it can force the Colts into a few turnovers to set up the Lions offense.
On offense, the Lions will have to deal with an active defensive front that wants to get to the quarterback. The offensive line will have to perform at a high level to give quarterback Matthew Stafford some time. If it can, it could be a nice day for the Lions offense.
Week 14: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
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The Lions travel to Green Bay for a Week 14 matchup. Lambeau Field has been a house of horrors for the Lions, as they have not won there since 1991. This is a streak that needs to come to an end, and it is a great time of the season for the Lions to exorcise that demon.
For that to happen, the Lions need to play their best game of the season on offense, defense and special teams. They can’t get down in the game, and they can’t give up easy scores to Aaron Rodgers and company.
The offense will need to perform extremely well, and the Lions will need a few big plays out of their offense in this affair. It would be very helpful if the running game could keep the Packers defense honest and away from Stafford.
This is another tough game that the Lions will play that will dictate whether the season is a success or a failure. The Lions need to be able to win a few games that most think they won’t, as the 1-3 start has them behind the eight-ball.
Week 15: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals
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The Arizona Cardinals have surprised just about everyone, as they have opened up their season with a 4-1 record. They have played very good football, and at this point, they are winning games on the strength of their defense.
The Cardinals can’t run the football, and they have lost their starting and backup running backs to IR. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is at the helm, and the Cardinals entire offense is very ordinary. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a threat, but that threat is mitigated by the woeful offensive line.
The Lions would be best served by dominating this game with their defensive line, creating pressure and forcing Kolb to beat them. If the Lions can get pressure with their front four, they will be in good shape.
The offensive line needs to protect Stafford and give him time to throw the ball. The Lions need to get back to their big-play offense, and that starts up front. If the Lions can make a few big plays with the ball in their hands and force Kolb into a few errors, the Lions should win this game.
Week 16: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions
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The Lions host the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night in Week 16. This is certainly an exciting matchup, but it is also a game the Lions will struggle to win. The Falcons have turned into a powerful passing team, and there are weapons everywhere for quarterback Matt Ryan.
Ryan has wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones as well as tight end Tony Gonzalez to target. The trio looks pretty unstoppable through five weeks, as the Falcons are 5-0. This is a test the Lions will struggle to pass, as there is simply too much firepower to stop the Falcons.
If there is a hope, it’s in the possibility of the home-field advantage causing problems for the Falcons, and possibly a turnover or two. The Lions must take advantage of every opportunity in this game.
Offensively, the Lions must score a lot of points and they need to keep the pedal down. It would be helpful to have the running game working to keep the defense thinking about other things than bearing down on Stafford.
This will be a huge test for the Lions, and while it doesn’t seem like this is a great matchup for the Lions, we have seen that anything is possible any given Sunday, or Saturday in this case.
Week 17: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
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The Lions finish the regular season by hosting the Chicago Bears in Week 17. The NFL looked at this matchup as a potential playoff-clinching game for both teams, and the Lions better play really well over the next two months if this game will live up to the expectations.
It is a rematch of teams that saw each other in Week 7, and it has explosive potential. The Lions will try to disrupt quarterback Jay Cutler by applying pressure from their defensive line. If the defensive line can get home, it will create huge problems for the Bears passing game. The Lions will have to tackle well to keep the Bears running game under control.
On offense, the Lions must be able to run the ball well. They need to make some big plays happen on offense, but a ball-control game might keep defensive end Julius Peppers away from Stafford. The Lions must protect their quarterback to have a chance at beating the Bears in Week 17.
The Lions have started the 2012 season with a 1-3 record, and the Bears are out to a 4-1 start. It is hard to see this game settling one of the last playoff spots but the Lions are explosive enough on offense to turn things around. The Bears have major offensive line issues, and while a 4-1 start is very impressive, there is a lot of football left to play.