What we have here is two very solid defenses facing two very lackluster offenses.
Detroit is running out of rope here and cannot afford many more—if any—losses if they want even a shot at a wild-card berth.
Yet they have not exactly shown an ability to rise above their issues so far.
Can they turn it around this weekend?
When the Lions Are on Offense
According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com's NFC North Blog, the Lions have only reached the red zone on seven of 37 first-half possessions. They have only scored one touchdown in those seven red zone appearances.
Even Wayne Fontes knows that's horrific.
They cannot continue down this path.
The Lions need to get off the starting blocks for once, and they need to do it against a very stingy Seattle defense.
How to do this is the question—and no matter what the plan is, the truth of the matter is that Matthew Stafford needs to pull it together.
Stafford is a mess right now—I don't think I have ever seen a veteran like Stafford as out of sorts as he was on Monday. He shuffled, and didn't set his feet. He hurried his throws and reads.
It was one of the worst performances I have seen from him since the beginning of last year.
He seems to be regressing. How to cure it is threefold.
First, he needs to calm himself and break down his mechanics. He needs to set his feet, look off defenders, lower his release point.
Second, the run game has to get going. Mikel Leshoure has to buy Stafford time by knocking the defense back. It's not going to be easy, but if he can run effectively, it will be a huge help. The problem is that the Lions will not commit to the run. Sometimes it's because the team falls behind, but more often than not they just decide to start chucking the ball everywhere.
This year that's not working so much.
So a shifting in philosophy would be in order. They don't need to ground and pound, but they do need commit to the run early and try to tire defenses out. That would certainly help Stafford.
The third thing is for the offensive line to step up and start giving Stafford more piece of mind. He will need to trust them more, but let's start with the basics—keep him upright.
This is a fierce defense the Lions are going up against this week, and there will be little time to throw the ball if the offensive line doesn't block better. Shorter plays, quicker routes and an effective run game will help, but the simple fact is the O-line needs to keep the defense off Stafford's back.
When the Lions Are on Defense
This is all about Marshawn Lynch.
Sure, Russell Wilson has moments, but the Seahawks offense has no real wide receivers and a rookie quarterback who struggles.
They will rely on Lynch to get the chains moving and keep them moving, especially against a team like the Lions who will get into the backfield a lot to disrupt passing plays.
Mind you, Wilson has the ability to run, and if the Lions get too aggressive, they may pay for it.
Still it's about Lynch.
So the defense needs to penetrate and hit Lynch in the backfield. He's a mack truck, so you know he's going to get a few yards after contact. Hitting him in the backfield makes sure those yards are less harmful and that he has less of a chance to break long runs.
If the Lions can cut Lynch out of the picture—or limit the damage he inflicts—and force Wilson to throw, the Lions will have an excellent chance to win this game.
While the secondary is a bit banged up, the defensive line will get after Wilson, and if the Lions spy Wilson—have a safety like Louis Delmas watch him and fly to him when he scrambles and runs—they should be able to contain him.
The Seahawks are very one-dimensional—run-dimensional to be exact—and if you shut down their ground attack, they will struggle to move the ball.
The way the Lions win this game is by getting the offense moving early and blasting Marshawn Lynch. It's a tall order as Lynch is a tremendous back, and the Lions offense hasn't been very good.
They've got to find a way to do both though—they don't have much more time to turn the season around.
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