Why the Detroit Lions Will Go Undefeated at Ford Field in 2011
During a 24-game stretch from 2001-2003, Detroit Lions couldn't win a road game. It was the longest such streak in NFL history. In 2010, they broke their own record, losing 26 straight away games. But with a streak-ending win in Tampa Bay last season, the Lions transformed into road warriors.
That win started the Lions five-game road winning streak, longest in the franchise's nearly eight-decade history. Counting preseason, the Lions are 5-0 on the road in 2011, outscoring opponents 133-117.
They've managed two consecutive road comebacks of 20 points or more, the first time in NFL history. The Lions have ended a decade of road woes with impressive away victories this season.
But the Lions have been invincible at home.
The Lions have played dominating, lights-out football at Ford Field in 2011. Including preseason, the Lions have decimated their opponents 116-16. They've taken the ball away 10 times, and only surrendered it twice. The sellout crowds have been rowdy; surely more so for next week's Monday Night Football game.
Sitting at 4-0 after three road games, the Lions have the second-best scoring offense, the eighth-best scoring defense and the second-best scoring differential in the NFL. Now, the Lions start a three-game home stand against the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons (20th, 10th and 23rd in scoring differential respectively).
If the Lions step it up at home as much as they have been, they should have no trouble dispatching the Bears and Falcons. The 49ers defense will be a tough test—but they haven't faced an offense nearly as powerful as the Lions'. The Lions defense is just as good, anyway; they're allowing 19.0 points per game compared to the 49ers' 18.8.
How many home games will the Lions win this season?
After that stand, the Lions have just four more home contests. Three of those four games are against the Carolina Panthers, the Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers; collectively they are 4-8.
The Lions should be favorites, if not heavy favorites, in six of their seven remaining home contests. With the way they've been protecting their house, they should live up to that billing.
The only terrifying foe standing in between the Lions and a perfect home campaign are the reigning World Champions: the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers are still in Super Bowl form; they are the only team besides the Lions yet to lose a game. At 37.0 points per game, their high-flying offense is the only unit putting up more points than the Lions. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is making his case for NFL MVP, too: he's thrown 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
The Lions won't play scared. Last season, the Lions beat Rodgers and the Packers in Detroit, 10-3—despite starting their third-string quarterback, Drew Stanton. Combined with the Lions' 28-26 loss in Lambeau Field, the Lions actually outscored the Packers while splitting their two-game series . . . all while Matthew Stafford didn't play a down.
The Packers are at least as good as they were last season, but the Lions are markedly better. Jim Schwartz has said he wants the Lions to put "barbed wire" around the Thanksgiving Day game, to make sure the pride and tradition of Detroit's annual showcase is upheld.
The NFC North title—and even home field advantage in the playoffs—could be on the line. If the Lions are going to bring it for any game, it will be Thanksgiving.
If the Lions play as well on that day as they've played at home so far, the Lions will go undefeated at Ford Field this year.
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