Detroit Lions: A Look at Each Remaining Game in Detroit's 2011 NFL Season
Most residents of Michigan have been waiting a long time for the Detroit Lions to play meaningful games in December. Their desire will finally be fulfilled this season thanks to Detroit's excellent start.
However, the remaining seven games will provide a much greater challenge than the first half of the season. There are multiple winnable games, but the Lions have to play the Green Bay Packers twice and the New Orleans Saints.
For the first time since the 1990s, the Lions will have something on the line besides draft position each time they take the field. Since fan comes from fanatic, you can bank on the sales of antacids to skyrocket due to the collective anxiety of the Honolulu Blue faithful.
The following slides will provide a quick overview of each remaining game as well as a thought regarding the result.
Week 11: Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
The Carolina Panthers have been as surprising as the Detroit Lions, but their expectations were much lower. Cam Newton has demonstrated that he is a starting NFL quarterback and that he will be a problem for opponents for years to come.
Yet the team still isn't winning that many games, and the Lions are going to be energized at home after having their nose rubbed in it by the Chicago Bears. The defensive line will allow Detroit to drop enough defensive backs to make things difficult for Newton.
The offense will benefit from playing a defense that allows an average of 25.9 points and build some momentum for the stretch run.
Week 12: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are the last team to beat the Green Bay Packers in a game which Aaron Rodgers played. There will be plenty of energy inside Ford Field on Thanksgiving, but Rodgers is the type who doesn't forget things like a close loss.
He will continue to put on the aerial display that he has during his historic start. Detroit may be able to get to him a few times, but ultimately the Packers will be able to put up points.
The Lions will need to perform well offensively against arguably the league's worst passing defense to keep their confidence moving forward. Regardless of their effort, they won't keep pace with the prolific Packers.
Week 13: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
The Detroit Lions will be entering the game with a record of 7-4, so there will be a sense of urgency. Jim Schwartz will not panic, but he will impress upon his young team that it is in a fight for survival.
The New Orleans Saints are well on their way to regaining their NFC South crown. The overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons gave them a 1.5-game lead with mostly winnable games remaining.
Yet they are a veteran team, and Drew Brees won't be scared of Detroit's improved defense. The Lions will have to endure a painful close loss and a week's worth of talk that their season is over.
Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
The cure for the Detroit Lions comes in the form of Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.
The Detroit Lions will have faced off against two of the premier quarterbacks in the league and be ready to feast on the young Viking. The defensive line will get to him early and often so he never gets comfortable.
Adrian Peterson will be effective as always, but the Vikings defense will not slow down the aerial attack of Detroit. The Lions will finally get that necessary springboard win.
Week 15: Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders
Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions remind a lot of people of the old Oakland Raiders (and Los Angeles) teams. The Raiders embraced their bad boy image, and it led to quite a bit of success.
The Lions have begun to accept their role as NFL villains, and it will benefit them as well. They will be able to get after the immobile Carson Palmer and force the turnovers that have been a large key to their success.
On the other side, the Lions offense will continue to dominate against a defense ranked in the bottom-third. The Lions will leave Oakland with a 9-5 record and firmly have their destiny in their hands.
Week 16: San Diego Chargers at Detroit Lions
Philip Rivers is having one of those years where it never clicks. He hasn't looked like himself all year as evinced by the 15 interceptions he has thrown.
The Detroit Lions have made a living by forcing turnovers. Chris Houston already has four, and all the defensive backs benefit from the pressure created by Detroit's front four.
The Lions will understand the importance of this game with a trip to play the Green Bay Packers looming. They may not clinch a playoff spot a week early, but it will be enough wins to get them over the hump in the end.
Week 17: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Charles Woodson believes the Green Bay Packers can go undefeated, and he may be right. The schedule has a few challenges but none that the Packers aren't capable of overcoming.
The Lions will hope that Green Bay will have lost one by then, so they will rest their starters for the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is the type of player who gets motivated by challenges. If they have a shot at an undefeated season, he will play.
The Lions will not be able to win this one on the frozen tundra if the Packers come to play. Either way, they will have enough wins and be preparing to travel to New York to take on the Giants.