The Detroit Lions’ playoff hopes came to a crashing halt this past Sunday following a disappointing 26-17 loss to the 6-9 Cincinnati Bengals.
In typical Lions fashion, the NFC North Division team had multiple opportunities to close this game out; however, they yet again they failed to capitalize on key chances, something that has haunted this organization for years. First came the missed 50-yard field goal by Matt Prater - a kicker who has reputation for being one of the best long-range kickers in the game. Then, there was the the Golden Tate “no catch” which wasn’t reviewed; however, if it was challenged they would’ve likely won and been in midfield. Finally, the performance of Matthew Stafford, a quarterback who wants to be considered elite but can’t show up in the big games. Stafford had his worst statistic performance since the Lions bye week back in week seven. He was able to throw for only 203 yards, had a 69.1 passer rating, and completed only 54% of his throws.
This is simply not good enough by the Lions.
One can also add to all of this the fact that both the Packers and Vikings have been without their starting quarterback at some point this season. Granted, Case Keenum took over in Minnesota, but either way he isn’t considered a high-caliber quarterback. Detroit were unable to gain any momentum from either of these losses. In fact, since Aaron Rodgers went down in week seven against the Minnesota Vikings the Lions went 5-4 and were unable to defeat any team over .500.
Despite missing out on the playoffs, however, it’s not all bad news.
Here is a look at a few positives for their season:
For the first time since 2014, the Lions will have a winning record against the NFC North. Right now, they’re one of two teams (the Dallas Cowboys) to have a .800 winning percentage against their division and be officially eliminated from this years playoffs.
With their victories on the road against the Vikings, Packers and Bears; this Lions team became the first in franchise history to have a 100% winning record in divisional road games.
On Sunday, Detroit will have an opportunity to make their record 5-1 when they face off against the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers.
Detroit’s defence has been creating takeaways like they’re going out of fashion. It seems like almost every week you see them with either an interception or fumble. They’ve been able to turn some heads and get their names more on the radar. The leader of the charge has been safety Glover Quin: an elite talent who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. The former Pro Bowler has three interceptions and three forced fumbles (a career-high) to his name, along with a defensive touchdown. Quin got help from his fellow secondary teammates Darius Slay (nine interceptions), Quandre Diggs (three interceptions), and lineman A’Shawn Robinson, who had a pick-six against the Saints and has one forced fumble.
Heading into week 16, their defence has 17 interceptions (fourth in the NFL) and has turned three of them into six points. They’ve caused 15 forced fumbles (sixth) and taken two to the house.
For a defence that came into the season with no “stars”, they’ve done a fantastic job.
For how much as Stafford fell apparent on Sunday against the Bengals, he’s still a top quality quarterback. If it wasn’t for his record against .500 or above teams this season (2-6) you could consider him an elite quarterback. However, we can’t for that reason.
Statiscally, he’s a top 10 quarterback in almost every category:
*heading into week 16*
- 4123 Passing Yards - 4th
- 274.9 Passing Yard/Game - 5th
- 26 Touchdowns - 7th
- 97.1 Passer Rating - 8th (8 or more games)
Stafford has been handed a couple of talented underrated wide receivers in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. He’s also got weapons such as rookie Kenny Golladay (26 catches, 397 yards), tight end Eric Ebron (52 catches, 562 yards), and pass catching back Theo Riddick (51 catches, 432 yards).
The Lions passing game is in tremendous hands. A big need for this team, thought, is a running back. The Ameer Abdullah trail is over and it’s time to move on. Having an effective run game would only benefit Stafford. He the main vocal point of this offense. The Lions will only succeed if they find a way to take the pressure off of him