Things look grim, and there are no two ways about it.
A loss was bad enough, but to drop a second divisional game is brutal. That said, some guy once said it ain't over until it's over—there is still time to pull this out of a tailspin.
It's going to take a lot of winning with what is at times a very tough schedule.
More than anything else, the Lions need to win divisional games, but with a 2-4 record, you kind of have to win more than that, because it's unlikely you are sliding into the playoffs with a division title.
More than likely, you need to look at a wild-card berth—and that's a steep hill to climb.
Here's a quick and dirty look at the rest of the schedule and what they might need to do to win in each. Keep in mind, this is a look from the perspective of right now. Things can and will change before we hit next week—forget three, four weeks from now.
I'm not predicting wins/losses outright, but I will tell you how I lean right now.
I'll get into this fully tomorrow, but this is a matter of getting the offense going early and finding a way to bottle Marshawn Lynch up. I like Russell Wilson, but he has virtually no weapons to pass to, and the offensive line has issues. So if you get out to a lead, you should win. This is a very winnable game.
This will be one of those games that, if they manage to lose, would pretty much spell the end of the year. This team isn't very good at full strength and are now pretty much decimated on offense with Maurice Jones-Drew down for who knows how long.
Blaine Gabbert is playing hurt, and even on a non-throwing shoulder, a torn labrum is no joke. He may not make it to this game, which means Chad Henne takes the helm. The defense is nothing to write home about, either. They should expect to win this one.
Beating the Vikings in their own house is tough. In fact, it hasn't happened yet this year (although let's see how Thursday night plays out). So you know, going in, this is a very tough game.
The key will be forcing Christian Ponder into mistakes and stopping Adrian Peterson. Also, protecting Matt Stafford, although with Stafford playing as he is, I wonder if Shaun Hill might be a better option. I'm not even kidding.
However, it won't happen short of an injury, and Stafford is just having too many issues. Can they win this game? Yes, if they play mistake-free football. Will they? I have my doubts.
The last time these two met, it was 'Gunfight at the OK Corral'. This year could be the same—if Stafford brings bullets. And his gun.
Another problem is a very potent Green Bay defense—one not likely to allow the big points of last December. Even at home, this is tough to see going the Lions' way. They will need to have the offense firing early and attack the vulnerable spots on the offensive line. It's possible—and at home, they always have a shot.
We know the Texans can be beat because we saw it happen with Green Bay Packers a few weeks back. And then we saw the Texans destroy a shaky Baltimore Ravens team. This is a tough game, but at least it's at home.
Arian Foster has been the focal point of the offense this season and will continue to be, barring injury. So more than likely, that is where the defense has to aim for. Yes, Andre Johnson is still a stud—he's just not the factor he once was because of the way the offense is run. This will come down to stopping Foster first and foremost. It's going to be a tough game and difficult to pull a win away from.
On the surface, even this far out, this looks like it should be a win. Then again, so did the loss to Tennessee. Andrew Luck can play really well, and he's beaten some good teams. However, this is a game tailor-made for the Lions' front seven. If they keep Luck hopping and get some help from the secondary, they should come away with a win.
Most of the same things I said in regards to Week 11 apply here—it will be a tough game to win, especially at Lambeau Field in December. It's too soon to spend a lot of time on detail, but they need to attack the line and get the offense moving early.
Will the Falcons and the Amoeba Defense still be effective? This is a hard offense to stop, and weather won't be a factor in Detroit because it's a dome (which you knew). That means Matt Ryan can throw at will—unless Ndamukong Suh and his guys get to him first.
The Atlanta offensive line has played well, but it's not perfect. Depending on what shape everything is in on both teams, this could be a really hard one to come out of with a win.
A division game on the last week of the regular season is one of the better things the NFL has come up with recently. How meaningful will this game be? Hopefully very. It's at home, which is a plus, and the Bears offensive line will give up some sacks as they did this past Monday.
Again, and this is a theme, can the Lions offense get going early? If the defense plays like it did this past week, it won't matter if the offense stalls again.
It's not a pretty picture, this is true. There are two games that should be sure wins, four that are pretty good bets to be losses and a bunch of tossups. Will 8-8 do it for this division? Probably not.
So somewhere in here, the Lions have to steal a few wins. If they can do that—and they have the talent, even if they aren't showing it all the time now—they have a shot.
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