#6 Seed – Detroit Lions
First Round Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Best Case Scenario: Matthew Stafford and the passing game continue to run a conga line down the field; and the much-hyped Detroit pass rush does something constructive like sacking the quarterback.
Worst Case Scenario: An opposing defense makes the Lions do something on offense consistently that doesn’t involve Calvin Johnson; Detroit’s non-existent running game rears its head when Stafford needs support; Detroit’s 23rd ranked defense can’t create turnovers or generate a consistent pass rush; and Ndamukong Suh loses his composure…again.
Lion of Note: Johnson’s Achilles tendon remains sore as he misses practice time this week but the impact of Megatron is undeniable. Johnson set career bests with catches (96), yards (1,681), and touchdowns (16). If he is contained, Detroit’s odds of advancing are very slim.
A Reason Why The Lions Should Be Worried: Remember when people were hiding under the covers at the notion of facing Detroit’s vaunted defensive line? Well, that turned out to be fool’s gold to a degree. Detroit finished tied for 10th in the NFL with 41 sacks and placed 23rd in total defense. Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and company must provide front four pressure in this NFC field to have a prayer winning playoff games. Also, giving up 481 yards and six touchdowns to Matt Flynn is highly alarming as well.
A Quick Thought on the City of Detroit: One of my friends considers Wrestlemania III “the lovemaking of professional wrestling.” So true. On March 29, 1987, the Pontiac Silverdome saw “93,173” fans enjoy Wrestlemania III, one of the premier pop culture happenings of the 1980s. The show centered around WWF champion Hulk Hogan meeting longtime friend and then-enemy Andre the Giant. The match climaxed with Hogan slamming and pinning Andre.
A Number on Detroit: 356. That represents the number of rushing attempts for Detroit in 2011, which ranked 31st in the NFL. If they want to do anything in the postseason, they’ll need help from the running attack to protect their somewhat vulnerable D.
Song That Best Describes Them: Huey Lewis and the News – Bad Is Bad
Obviously, this situation called for a Motown song. However, when a team is flagged for 1,075 yards worth of penalties like Detroit (second worst behind Oakland), Mr. Lewis is what they get.
Final Verdict: Detroit will go as far as their discipline and most notably, Stafford can take them. Unfortunately, that figures to be no more than a trip to the divisional round. The opener at New Orleans is doable for the Lions because of their potent offense but it will require their best effort of the season and a whole lot of pressure on Drew Brees.