Detroit Lions: How Much Does Monday Night Football Mean?

Chad IrvineContributor IIIOctober 4, 2011

Calvin Johnson making a spectacular TD grab on Sunday against the Cowboys
Calvin Johnson making a spectacular TD grab on Sunday against the CowboysTom Pennington/Getty Images

It has been 10 years since the Detroit Lions hosted a Monday night football game. Looking at the way this season is going, it means a lot to the team. The Lions play the Bears in their second divisional game of the season. The Lions came back in Week 3 to beat the Vikings in overtime. Here are some of the things the Lions need to do to:

Offense: Pass the ball. The Lions have over 1200 yards through the air this season thanks to Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford working the field. Johnson has 321 Receiving yards this season, 81 more than the second leading receiver Brandon Pettigrew. Stafford has connected with his receivers for 11 TDs. His passer rating is just over 100, and has played some phenomenal ball. We can tell that the Lions can pass the ball, but what about on the ground?

The Lions haven't been able to do much on the ground this season. The longest rush by any player on the team is 20 yards by Nate Burleson—his only rush on the season. Other than that, Jahvid Best's best run was 19 yards. The Lions might have 11 passing TDs but they haven't been able to punch it into the end zone. Best has only one TD so far and the team collectively has two rushing TDs. The Lions must run the ball more, and do it effectively to be able to win games. Their one-dimensional play will only work so long, especially when they run into the New Orleans Saints in Week 13.

Overall, the Lions have a great passing offense and a mediocre rushing corps. They are second in the NFL in points per game and are seventh in passing yards per game. Their rushing game isn't the worst in the league though. Out of 32 teams, they rank 29th in rush yards per game, ahead of the Jets, Seahawks and Titans. The Lions are even behind the Indianapolis Colts (0-4) in terms of rush yards per game.  

Defense: The Lions' defense has been great all season, allowing only 70 first downs through four games. They have given up 5.2 yards per play all season and have had nine sacks on opposing QBs this year. Compared to 15 TDs scored, the team has given up only six TDs on defense, and only one on the ground. The turnover ratio is +8 for the team and they have been able to take the ball away from the opponents many times.

The Detroit Lions defense has forced nine sacks, and are led by Kyle Vanden Bosch with three. Ndamukong Suh, one of the defensive poster children of the NFL, has had two for himself. Vanden Bosch has also forced two fumbles of the team's five. Intercepting passes is also something the team does well to take away the ball. The Lions have two interceptions returned for TDs this season. One by Chris Houston and the other by Bobby Carpenter. Houston leads the Lions with three INTs, almost half of the Lions seven INTs this year. If they can force turnovers, they can win the game against the Bears.

Recap: The Detroit Lions haven't played a MNF game in 10 years, and haven't had a textbook season since. However, a new stadium and a new logo means a lot to the team. The Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980. Look for them to try and go 5-0 this time with the city behind them. Detroit fans have a lot to get excited about: the Lions are winning, the Tigers are in the playoffs, and Red Wings hockey is right around the corner.