3 Reasons to Believe the Detroit Lions Miss the Playoffs This Season
There is certainly enough blame to go around the organization for the team's sluggish start, but the leading question is whether or not it is too late for Detroit to right the ship and continue to build off last season's successful campaign.
There are no guarantees in the NFL, so there is still a remote possibility that the Lions can figure things out and make a push toward the playoffs. But the odds are stacked against this young team.
Here are three reasons why Detroit will fall short of the postseason.
The NFC Is Stacked
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Normally, a 2-4 record through six games wouldn't be as bad as it is this year. The NFC is loaded, though, and there are a number of teams standing in the way of making the playoffs.
Detroit is the only team in the NFC North with a sub-.500 record, currently sitting 13th in the conference. The Lions are just ahead of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers.
The NFC features 10 teams with a .500 record or better, five teams with at least five wins and one undefeated team in the Atlanta Falcons.
While things will eventually shake out as the season progresses, the improvement of teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins will make it difficult for any current bottom-feeder from leaping over that many teams.
Throw in the teams currently at the top of the conference and, barring an amazing run, the Lions are almost sure to miss the playoffs.
Lack of Offensive Balance and Adjustments
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With talent like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew to work with, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan should be considered one of the brightest minds in the NFL. Instead, he expects last season's extraordinary results to be duplicated without making the proper adjustments.
Opposing defenses know the Lions lack a dynamic running game and that Stafford leans on Johnson and Pettigrew way too much in the passing attack. It is Linehan's job to put these guys in the position to succeed.
Offensively, the key is to keep the defense guessing by mixing up the play calls and utilizing the entire field. With Nate Burleson out for the season, Linehan's job just got a lot more difficult.
With a lack of offensive balance and the reliance on Johnson and Pettigrew to make most of the plays, the Lions won't be able to overcome their early-season deficit.
Matthew Stafford Forced to Press
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Quarterback Matthew Stafford knows exactly what position the Detroit Lions are currently in. He is also aware that most of the blame will fall on his shoulders regardless of how obvious it might be that he isn't the one to blame.
Stafford is the byproduct of a one-dimensional offense. What can look great one year can completely fall apart the next.
In 2011, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns to only 16 interceptions. So far this season, the quarterback has thrown for 1,754 yards, with only five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Stafford is in a tough position, however. With few weapons that he trusts, changing plays at the line becomes less of an option. And with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's lack of creativity, the quarterback is forced into decisions that worked very well a year ago.
The Lions probably won't make the playoffs this season, but it is never too late for Stafford to become a better decision-maker and build trust with guys not named Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew.