by Brad Holda
As my cohort Mr. Talcott said, “The Lions are the worst team in professional sports.” Unfortunately, I would have to concur. Since winning the old NFC championship in 1957 they have been arguably the worst franchise in NFL history. You’d be surprised at some of the things that have made this organization a perennial joke.
The Lions have only won one playoff game in 53 years, yet the die-hard fans show up to the games with an unrelenting passion and more passive observers can’t help but to tune in to eventually see how the Lions manage to lose the game, on their own accord. Last year when Caldwell rallied Detroit to an impressive 11-5 record that marked a big landmark for the franchise, it was the fifth time they reached double digit wins in a season in the last 60 years. This is worse than the curse of the billy goat the Chicago Cubs have had to endure for crying out loud. We only own a winning record against 5 other franchises, around 17.5 percent of the league. We haven’t had a winning coach since 1972, have perpetually made the most abysmal of draft picks, and the most unforgiving thing of them all – we ruined football for Barry Sanders.
The Demise of Matthew Stafford and the Offensive Unit
It’s year two under Joe Lame-Bardi; why is regression happening at such an accelerated rate? Does it all fall on Matthew Stafford’s shoulders? Is it the offensive line? I can emphatically assert that this falls onto the hot seat Lombardi is sitting in. The OC has unfortunately tried to mold players’ talents to fit his scheme instead of modifying his scheme to incorporate the strengths of his athletes. It’s clear as day, he’s not putting his playmaker’s in position to..umm, yeah.. make plays! Come on man, it’s torture watching the offense nowadays. Gone are the days with long post routes, frequent play action. Joe has put Stafford in a box with play calls that are generally slants, short crossing routes, and frequent screens. It’s all too rudimentary and predictable. Not to mention, putting major draft stock into the offensive line, grabbing Manny Ramirez at center and drafting first round Laken Tomlinson to no avail. Although Stafford has an affinity for making poor decisions with the ball, the blame is not all on him. With the run game being the worst, averaging around 90 yards a game, he is expected to carry the team with his arm. And it’s very hard for a quarterback to win with his arm throwing for 74 percent of the snaps while receiving the most physical pressure he’s seen in his career, dropping back at a rate of about 39 percent. Statistically, applied pressure decreases accuracy by about 14 percent and increases the chance of an interception by 64 percent. Good pressure can turn a quarterback like Tom Brady into Matt Leinart or even a Brady Quinn. Good at broadcasting football games but not so much at playing the game of football. Joe Lombardi is sinking quick, a loss on Sunday would put water in his lungs. Then he would truly be in over his head.
Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions and Prospective Fantasy Value.
Believe it or not, empirical statistical data and home field advantage will give the Lions a slight advantage to win in this game. I will explain my findings but first, let’s play fantasy speculation!
Detroit- Going against a Bears defense that is #3 against the pass. I wouldn’t put much stock in any Lions’ wide receivers. I don’t believe that, in standard leagues, starting a Lion is a rational thing to do. But there is some upside in PPR leagues because of Stafford’s high volume of passing. Last game, Calvin Johnson was targeted 12 times. Going against one of the better pass defenses he would fall into a low end WR2 spot. The rushing game has been virtually non-existent, so based on the last 5 games I wouldn’t start any Lions running back except possibly one. Theo Riddick has solidified his role as the third down back and has caught at least 5 passes in his last 3 games, eclipsing a career high with 10 catches last week netting him 53 yards and a touchdown. He is quickly gaining steam in PPR leagues and is a solid sleeper pick for this week. He is a low end flex position player.
Chicago- On the converse side of things, the Bears are going to be encountering an extremely stingy rush defense. Forte will probably get quite a bit of snaps, but if Alshon Jeffery is out, he could become a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s a solid RB2 starter. Moving on, we have one of the most consistent tight ends, week in and week out with Martellus Bennet. And if Jeffery is out, he should see an increase in targets. If Alshon starts, he would definitely be a solid low end WR2 going up against a suspect Lions’ secondary. If he doesn’t end up playing, Marquess Wilson would be a solid replacement for him.
Now onto why I have Detroit favored by 6.5 points. You’ve just got to follow the numbers! You ready?
249 Passing yards per game 221 Det +1
92 Rushing yards per game 92 ——
24 Points per game 19 Det +1
55% Red zone conversion 57% ——-
3 Touchdowns per game 2 Det+2.5
2 Turnovers per game 1 Chi +1
2 Sacks per game 2 ——-
8.7 Yards per pass play 5.9 Det +1
4.3 Yards per rush attempt 6.4 Chi +1
And let’s not forget the standard 3 point deviation that goes in the direction of the home team, which leads me to believe the Lions will win in a close game by 6-7 points.
My Prediction: Lions 24-17 over Chicago
Calvin Johnson: 7 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown
Theo Riddick : 4 catches for 35 yards
Matt Forte: 19 rush 64 yards, 4 receptions 45 yards and a touchdown
Martellus Bennet: 4 catches 54 yards
Alshon Jeffery** 5 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown
Marquess Wilson: 3 catches for 23 yards