Detroit Lions: Game by Game Predictions for Second Half of the Season
After weeks of struggle and inconsistency, the Detroit Lions finally put together a solid effort through all four quarters of football. Their 28-24 victory against the Seattle Seahawks came down to the last minute in usual Lions' fashion.
However, Detroit put their best foot forward and got a collective team effort.
It's too soon to assume this game was a turning point for the Lions' season, but it's a positive notion to finally see some consistency.
Detroit will need more of it as they approach the second half of their season.
The Lions are about to hit the toughest point of their schedule soon and will need more games reminiscent to Sunday's victory over Seattle.
Here is my outlook on the rest of the Lions' season.
1. Week 9 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
But their next matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars is a "can't lose" game.
Jacksonville is one of the worst teams in the league, and their best weapon is sidelined by injury. The Lions won't have to deal with running back Maurice Jones-Drew after he injured his foot against the Green Bay Packers.
Without Jones-Drew, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars offense pose little threat, as they are dead last in offense. The Lions' defensive line should be able to frustrate Gabbert and force a couple turnovers.
Rookie Justin Blackmon is yet to score a touchdown, and Detroit can't afford to surrender his coming out party.
Jacksonville doesn't have much of a strong spot on defense either.
Matthew Stafford and the Lions' offense should be able to move the ball efficiently and comfortably. Mikel Leshoure has also been fairly quiet since his 100-yard game against the Titans.
This would be a good chance for the Lions to re-establish their ground attack.
Detroit 21 Jacksonville 10
2. Week 10 @ Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota drew first blood against the Lions in their Week 4 matchup.
Now the Lions must shoot for revenge at Minnesota, where Detroit has struggled over the past several years; the Lions ended their drought at the Vikings' house last season.
The Vikings start and finish with Peterson as the focal point of their offense.
He's the league leading rusher with 775 yards. Peterson is a constant headache for the Lions' defense, but they must find a way to slow down the Vikings' workhorse.
On the other side of the football lies one of the Lions' biggest divisional nemesis, Jared Allen.
Allen leads a vicious pass rush that is second in the NFL in sacks. Minnesota has done quite the job pressuring and limiting Matthew Stafford.
Tackle Jeff Backus must step up and protect his quarterback, but don't look for it to happen in this game.
Detroit 17 Minnesota 21
3. Week 11 vs. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are tied for second in the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings.
Despite the slow start they began 2012 with, the Packers are still the most threatening team in the NFC.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back in MVP form with 21 touchdowns, 2165 yards with a 69 percent completion rate and only four interceptions. Rodgers and the Packers have been in cruise control since their Monday night domination of the Houston Texans.
The Lions must keep pace with the Packers on offense.
Defensively, limiting Rodgers and his multitude of weapons won't be an easy task. Stafford and the Lions must match scores with Green Bay and keep the game close.
Lucky enough for Stafford, he won't have to deal with Charles Woodson due to an injured collarbone. However, the Packers have plenty other ball hawking defensive backs that will attack the Lions' receivers. Plus, Detroit will have their hands full controlling the stout defensive line.
Linebacker Clay Matthews has been a nightmare again this year with nine sacks.
If the Lions have any chance of upsetting the Packers, it will be at home that week. However, the Lions aren't matched up to slow down Green Bay.
If the Packers get out to an early lead fast, Detroit will be in trouble.
Green Bay 30 Detroit 24
4. Week 12 vs. Houston Texans
The Detroit Lions haven't won a Thanksgiving matchup since 2003 against the Green Bay Packers.
This year doesn't get any easier, as the Houston Texans come to town.
The Texans are heavily favored to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and for good reason. Houston sits first in the AFC at 6-1 with control of the AFC South.
The Texans present one of the most balanced teams in the entire league on both sides of the football.
Quarterback Matt Schaub has shown how good he can be when he stays healthy. Receiver Andre Johnson hasn't been as dominant as he used to be, but he certainly poses a threat for the Lions' defense.
However, this offense is now built around running back Arian Foster.
Foster has rushed for 659 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Lions have done a respectable job against superstar running backs like Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and LeSean McCoy. Foster is on a different level though and will be a problem for Detroit's defense.
If Houston has success with the run, then works in their effective play-action, the Lions will be in a lot of trouble.
Houston 31 Detroit 24
5. Week 13 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Rookie Andrew Luck has resurrected the Indianapolis Colts' franchise. After a disastrous 2011 season, Luck has brought back life within this football team.
The Colts have put together a top-10 passing attack in the NFL.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne seems to be in sync with his new rookie quarterback, catching 54 passes with a league-leading 757 yards. Luck has done a good job spreading the ball around, with 1,971 yards and eight interceptions.
Despite the Colts turnaround season, this is a game the Lions should be able to take advantage of.
Luck has thrown eight interceptions through the first half of the season. The Lions should be able to pressure the rookie and force some errors. Luck has been sacked 18 times and hit 47 times, third-highest total in the NFL.
This game is primed for Mikel Leshoure to take over.
Indianapolis surrenders 137 yards on the ground per game, ranking the 27th worst rush defense. The Lions need to establish the run game and control the game, as long as they don't turn the ball over of course.
Indianapolis 20 Detroit 31
Week 14 @ Green Bay Packers
Detroit has come up short at Lambeau Field since 1991.
The Green Bay Packers continue to own the Lions on their home field. Snapping this streak gives a boost for the Lions' moral and confidence.
It could be a turning point game if they find themselves in a close race for the playoffs.
But, this is always the toughest game of the year for the Lions.
No matter what field Aaron Rodgers is on, he poses a massive threat. The lone shot Detroit has at taking the Packers down is by hitting and pressuring Rodgers at an alarming rate.
If Rodgers has time to operate, or can scan downfield outside the pocket, it will be a long day for Detroit's defense.
Stafford, again, has to spread the ball around to all his receivers. The Packers' opportunistic secondary flies quickly and thrives off of creating turnovers.
Detroit 24 Green Bay 30
Week 15 @ Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals began the year as one of the biggest surprises of the season, starting with a 4-0 record. The Cardinals picked up two signature wins against the New England Patriots on the road and at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Arizona is fast and furious on defense, especially in their back seven.
They are surrounded with playmakers like safeties Kerry Rhodes and Adrian Wilson. Linebacker Daryl Washington has been a force in the middle with 68 tackles and eight sacks. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is a well-rounded player with great cover skills and the ability to tackle in the open field.
The matchup of Peterson vs. Calvin Johnson will be a joy to watch.
On offense, the Cardinals have been quite stagnant, ranking near last in every statistic.
Losing running back Ryan Williams to injury was a significant loss, plus the constant switch at quarterback has hindered the Cardinals' continuity. Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the best receivers in the league, but can be shut down with defensive pressure.
Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have been sacked a league-high 39 times and hit 59 times.
The Lions have struggled containing explosive special teams' units.
Life doesn't get easier when they face Peterson, who also excels in the return game. If he can set the Cardinals up with solid field position or put points on the board, the Lions will be in trouble.
Detroit's defensive line should be able tee off against the Cardinals. If the Lions can create havoc and turnovers with an efficient offensive game, they should leave Arizona with a victory.
Detroit 21 Arizona 17
Week 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons seem to be taking a step towards supremacy in the NFL.
They've established one of the NFL's most high octane offenses, and they're the lone team with an undefeated record (7-0).
Quarterback Matt Ryan has created a scary dynamic with wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Ryan has thrown for 2018 yards, 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Adding the run threat of Michael Turner rounds off one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Detroit struggled last year against Turner, giving up 122 yards on 27 touches. Atlanta took advantage last year of the Lions' aggressive defensive line, finding many gaps between the tackles. That offensive attack is still an issue the Lions have yet to solve.
Hard to see Detroit winning that battle against a physical Atlanta offensive line and that potent attack.
Stafford must be able to lead the Lions on offense and answer to the Falcons if they score frequently. If Detroit plays as stagnant as they have in the first few games, it will be a bad outcome for the Lions.
Atlanta 35 Detroit 31
Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears
The Lions suffered their worst loss of the season against the Chicago Bears on Monday night two weeks ago. Detroit went the entire first half without a first down and failed to protect Matthew Stafford.
Chicago didn't have an impressive day on offense, but dominated the Lions defensively.
Marshall caught six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown against Detroit.
Cutler played against the Lions without injured rookie Alshon Jeffery. If Cutler has his full arsenal of receivers and is protected, he can do damage to any defense.
Detroit won't have much breathing room against the top run defense in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford has also struggled finding his receivers against Chicago, especially Calvin Johnson. Cornerback Charles Tillman has done a great job over the years of taking Johnson out the Lions' equation.
This game will be a pivotal matchup for both teams who could be lobbying for playoff positions at this point of the year.
The Lions struggle against Chicago on the road, but could find some new-found life at home to close out the season.
Chicago 14 Detroit 20