In the preseason, I wrote about Bill Ford Jr. making the prediction that the Lions would win the Super Bowl this season. I then also added, hastily, that it might not be that crazy of a thought. Everything about the Lions showed that their needle was indeed pointing up. Yet, here we are six games into the 2012 campaign and Detroit is in familiar territory; the basement of the NFC North.
So what happened, exactly?
First, we have to look at who the Lions have played up to this point. They play in one of the toughest divisions in the conference that saw every team improve over last year. However, they’ve only faced two division opponents thus far, and they’re 0-2 against the Bears and Vikings. Their other two losses have come against the San Francisco 49ers, which is understandable and acceptable, while the other is against the rebuilding Tennessee Titans that was just an all around crazy game.
The biggest surprise on that list is the Vikings who no one thought would be ready to compete this season, yet here they are, above both the Lions and the Packers in the standings. Meanwhile, the Bears are now being talked about as an NFC title contender with a 5-1 start. So things are likely going to get more difficult for the Lions before it gets easier.
As far as their play on the field, Matthew Stafford has stayed mostly healthy this season, missing the end of the loss to the Titans, but his play has clearly regressed over his fantastic 2011 performance. Through the first six games in 2011, Stafford has already compiled 15 touchdown passes and just 4 interceptions. Through the same amount of time in 2012, he’s thrown 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
Stafford’s yardage through that span is actually up over 2011, he just isn’t finding his guy, Calvin Johnson, nearly as much in the end zone this year. With just 1 touchdown catch this year, one has to wonder if he’s regretting that decision to be on the cover of Madden Football this year after all. By the way, said curse isn’t only on a player’s health. Performance counts as well. However, I’m willing to bet Stafford and Megatron turn these particulars around before we say goodbye to the 2012 season.
The supposed achilles heel of this team this year has been their defense. One only has to look as far as the game against the Titans to see what I mean. They couldn’t have stopped my infant son from scoring a touchdown that day in the 4th quarter alone. However, if you look at their overall stats, the math is quite confusing. They currently have the 8th ranked total defense in the league. So how can this be?
The problem with the Lions defense this season has been their knack for giving up the big play. This is evidenced by their 25 points per game that they’re allowing, good for the 11th highest in the league. That is how you field a top 10 defense, yet allow the other team to top that number most weeks. The good news about this stat is that it can only go up, probably.
So how does a team with a top 10 defense and a top 5 offense end up with a 2-4 record? Simple, by losing the close ones. three of their four losses have been by a touchdown or less. Also, they’re turning the ball over too much. In turn, they aren’t creating many takeaways for a minus six on the season. It’s hard enough to win in this league without turning the ball over. If they get that corrected, they could still turn this around.
The good news is that in such a tough division, the teams are going to beat up on each other and they must capitalize on their four divisional games left. There is plenty of season left and they’re only a couple of wins away from being right back in it. But they needs to plug the holes sinking their ship right now and not panic. Plenty of season still left.
Filed under: Detroit Lions