The Detroit Lions won their season finale 35-11 over the Green Bay Packers. They finished the season 9-7, the first time they finished with back-to-back winning seasons since 94′-95′.
Although this is all fine and dandy, it is grossly overshadowed by the fact that they missed the playoffs for the second time in 4 years under Jim Caldwell. Even with this impressive win over a division rival, his future is still very much in doubt. He could be out of a job as soon as tomorrow.
This game, although meaningless, was admittedly fun to watch. It’s always fun to see the Lions devour the packers to pieces. It also looks like it might not have negatively affected the Lions’ draft position either, which is great to hear. It really was a win-win.
Matthew Stafford was great on a day many didn’t want him to play. 20-29, 323 yards and 3 touchdowns. He looked like the quarterback that everyone expects him to be, which is great for any new head coaching candidate. Stafford finished the season with 4,400+ yards, 29 touchdowns, and 10 ints.
Ezekiel Ansah racked up 3 sacks today, which is nuts. He finishes with 12 on the season. Now 12.Ziggy’s really working for that contract next year ???????? https://t.co/Ykja7OFSki— MSZ Lions (@MSZ_Lions) December 31, 2017
Darius Slay notched his 8th interception of the year, solidifying his place atop the league in that category. He’s been lights out all season and looks to continue to be for years to come.
No words… #Packers recover the onside kick to start the game ????#GBvsDET #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/KNOBJXcSNx— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 31, 2017
Whew, that running game is terrible. Wanna know who our leading rusher was? Tion Green, with 21 yards. Yikes. As a team, it only got worse… 2.4/YPC. Yeah, a coaching change might be needed just for that sole reason.
The offensive line wasn’t absolute garbage, just moderately garbage. Stafford was sacked 2 times but hit/hurried 16. I don’t know exactly what needs to be fixed, but my best guess is a scheme. Calling all coaches!
Matthew Stafford easily could have earned this award, but I feel it must go to Ziggy Ansah. 3 sacks? for the second time in a season? What madness is this?
The Lions and QB Matthew Stafford have agreed to a 5-year contract extension. Just a month ago the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr agreed to a 5 year $125 million dollar deal that made Carr the highest paid player in the league. As of now the exact details of the contract are unknown.
What is known is that the deal will make Stafford the highest paid player in the NFL. There have been sources that have said that the deal will be in the ballpark of an average annual salary of $27 million.
Last year Stafford led the Lions to a playoff berth despite losing future Hall of Famer, Calvin Johnson. In years that Stafford has played all 16 games, he has thrown for at least 4,000 yards. Additionally, in one season he threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 TDs.
Contracts and Extensions of the Past
When Stafford was drafted in 2009 he and the Lions agreed to a 6 year $72 million dollar deal with $47.1 million guaranteed.
Despite it being his rookie season, Stafford had a solid year. He threw for 2,267 yards with a 53.3% completion percentage. Back in 2013, Stafford resigned with the Lions with a 3 year $53 million dollar deal.
That deal made Stafford the highest paid player in the NFL at the time. All in all, after years of signing contracts, Stafford has performed good, not great, but not bad either.
By the time Stafford’s new contract is up in 2022, he will be 34 years old. He will likely still have 4 or 5 years left in his career. Although resigning Stafford in 2022 seems inevitable, most of it will depend on how he can do in the next 5 years.
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General manager Bob Quinn made improving the Detroit Lions’ offensive line a point of emphasis in the off-season. The Lions acquired veterans T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner to replace Riley Reiff and Larry Warford. This was considered an upgrade on the right side of the line.
The offensive line looked to be a strength on this team until Taylor Decker was injured during mini-camps in June. The second-year left tackle suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery. He is expected to be out 4-6 months. Decker showed a ton of promise during his rookie season.
Without Decker, this unit should still be improved from last season. As it stands, Detroit’s starters on the offensive line are Rick Wagner, TJ Lang, Travis Swanson, Graham Glasgow, and Greg Robinson.
Wagner played college football at the University of Wisconsin. The five-year pro was drafted in 2013 by the Baltimore Ravens. Wagner has great size at 6’6 and 315 pounds.
He played in 62 out of 64 possible games for the Ravens. During that time, Baltimore had an efficient offensive line. Quarterback Joe Flacco had career highs in passing yards. In 2015, Baltimore’s offensive line allowed the third-fewest sacks in the league.
Lang is finally home in Detroit after signing a three-year deal with the Lions. He’s from Royal Oak, MI. He played college football at Eastern Michigan University.
Lang spent the last eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He was part of the 2011 Super Bowl championship team. Lang didn’t allow a sack last season at right guard, earning him Pro Bowl honors.
The fourth-year pro is entering his third season as the starting center for the Lions. Swanson is also entering the final year of his contract.
Swanson missed the final five games of last season with a brain injury. It’s very unfortunate considering how much better he played last season. His progression showed after having a rough 2015-2016 campaign.
Glasgow got a lot of good experience during his rookie season. He played meaningful minutes at guard and center last year.
His development will be something to watch this season. He’s clearly been good enough to get the starting role over Joe Dahl and Laken Tomlinson. The Lions are going to need him to step up in a big way on the left side of the offensive line.
Robinson is getting a second chance with the Lions. He was the second overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He struggled mightily, ranking towards the bottom among offensive tackles in the NFL.
Robinson has big shoes to fill in Detroit. He’s replacing Decker, arguably the best offensive lineman from a season ago. He has the talent to resurrect his career with the Lions. He wasn’t drafted as high as he was for no reason.
When you read Detroit Lions prediction articles, you will see people predict them to have anywhere from four to eleven wins. Nobody knows how good this team is going to be. With that being said, here are four notable and must win games for the Lions.
Week 2 at the Giants
The Giants, coming off of an 11-5 season, look to make another run in the playoffs. With the addition of Brandon Marshall, it looks as if they are ready to come out this season running on all cylinders. If the Lions can pass this test and beat the Giants, I believe they will build early season confidence and be ready to beat other strong teams as the season continues.
Week 8 against the Steelers
The Steelers are built to win this season with the key additions of a 1st round draft pick, LB T.J. Watt, and a 2nd round draft pick, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. With those additions coming to an already talented team, the Steelers can easily make a run for the AFC Championship. A win in week eight against the Steelers will really show the league that this isn’t the same old Lions.
Week 14 at the Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have been rebuilding since the addition of Jameis Winston in 2015. This summer, the addition of WR DeSean Jackson really makes this Buccaneers team potentially dangerous as DeSean truly complements Winston’s game. I see this as a must-win for Detroit. These are the type of games that playoff teams don’t lose.
Week 17 against the Packers
Every year this game is crucial for both teams, but this year the Lions better hope they have the upper hand and come away with a victory. The Packers picked up TE Martellus Bennett and that’s about their only major addition. Aaron Rodgers is clutch, everybody knows that. This game could very well decide the division. If the Lions defense steps up and stops Rodgers, the Lions could come away as division champs.
I believe that if the Lions can win these crucial games, they will be in the playoffs and will prove to be a scary opponent for any team.
The Detroit Lions training camp has come and gone and the preseason is underway. Some Lions fans are looking at the season with optimism, while others warn to not get too invested because it’s still the same old Lions.
The team has some strong offensive weapons but many had hoped that Bob Quinn would bring in some additional help this past off-season. They will have opportunities next off-season however as many offensive free agents could be on the market. If the Lions bring in Sammy Watkins or Jimmy Graham as targets for Matthew Stafford, this could be the start of a super-offense forming.
With that being said, today, we’re going to be looking at the current Lions’ team and schedule along with key points for each game, and a prediction.
A few key injuries have already impacted the Lions season, so these predictions are what one writer believes will happen as of August 19, 2017.
Week 1 vs. Arizona Cardinals/September 10th, 2017
The Lions will start off their 2017 season with a doozy of a game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are a quality team and most likely a playoff team, which means that this is no easy game for the Lions. Matthew Stafford will have to continue his play from last year before he injured his thumb. It would be nice for Stafford to get a few pushover games to get back into the feel of things, but unfortunately, that’s not how the season will start.
Prediction: Cardinals 31, Lions 38
Week 2, @ New York Giants/September 18, 2017
The Lions will take on another good team in the New York Giants in Week 2. The Lions offense usually seems to have trouble when they have to take on the Giant defense. Matthew Stafford can’t beat teams by himself; the Lions will have to establish some sort of ground attack against New York. They will have to hold on to the ball and not be sloppy because the Giants can make them pay if they slip up.
Prediction: Lions 20, Giants 24
Week 3, vs. Atlanta Falcons/September 24, 2017
The Lions will have a 3rd straight game that will test the team when they take on the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Despite everything that happened in the second half of the Superbowl and the constant joking at their expense, the Atlanta Falcons were a very good team last year. And they are expected to be the same this season; no team reaches the Superbowl by fluke. The Lions defense will take on one of their toughest tests of the season in Week 3. The Lions offense should be able to do relatively well against the Falcons, but it doesn’t matter if the Lions can’t shut down players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Prediction: Falcons 38, Lions 24
Week 4, @ Minnesota Vikings/October 1st, 2017
The Lions will battle their first NFC North rival of the 2017 season, taking on the Vikings on the first day of October. The Vikings started last season 5-0 and looked like they might cruise to an NFC North Championship. Unfortunately for Minnesota, they ended up losing 8 of their last 11 games and finishing 3rd behind the Packers and the Lions. They have a quality team this year, but most likely just about the same talent level as last year. A big thing that the Vikings need to be successful is consistency, and the Lions job is to disrupt that consistency on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Lions 31, Vikings 27
Week 5, vs. Carolina Panthers/October 8th, 2017
The Lions will take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 5 of the season. The Panthers season this year is a variable. It depends on the health of Cam Newton and some other key players. Anything could happen for Carolina this year. Almost the same is true for the Lions. The defense will have to loom large and put pressure on Newton. The offensive line will have to hold their own against the Panthers D-Line and Linebackers.
Prediction: Panthers 10, Lions 24
Week 6, @ New Orleans Saints/October 15, 2017
The Lions in Saints will clash in Week 6. Whenever the Lions and Saints meet, the offenses thrive. Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford duel, and it normally comes down to whoever turns the ball over too many times. The defenses will have to do all they can do to try to give the ball back to their offenses, and injuries in the first 5 weeks will have a big effect on this game.
Prediction: Lions 35, Saints 27
Week 8, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers/October 29, 2017
The Lions will play another tough game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best teams in the AFC. The Lions’ defense will be crucial in this game. The outcome almost completely relies on what kind of a day the Lions’ D is having. The Steelers have 3 dynamic offensive players in Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell that the Lions will have to key in on. It is necessary that the Lions hold at least 2/3 of those guys to a decent or bad game in order to win.
Prediction: Steelers 34, Lions 28
Week 9, @ Green Bay Packers/November 6, 2017
The Lions will travel to tough Lambeau Field to take on their hated NFC North rival, the Green Bay Packers. No matter what kind of season that they’re having, the Packers always seem to have the Lions number. The Lions haven’t beaten the Packers twice in one season since 1991 when the Lions won the North and lost in the NFC Championship. Detroit has lost 3 straight to the Pack, dating back to December 2015. The Lions seemed to have a tight grip on the NFC North last year heading into the last few weeks of the season, before the Packers “ran the table”, beating the Lions in Detroit in Week 17 and winning their 5th division championship in the last 6 years.
The Lions will have to endure the weather conditions and the Packers’ fans bearing down on them as well as the Packers themselves to win this game. It will be tough, and the Lions will need players to step up on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Lions 24, Packers 31
Week 10, vs. Cleveland Browns/November 12, 2017
The Lions will take on the lowly Browns in Week 10. This is a good game for the Lions to come home to after playing the Packers in Green Bay. The Lions should be able to take this one pretty easily from the Browns, but in the NFL and all sports, you always have to take your opponent seriously. You never know what could happen. The Lions will have to play their game and protect the football while working the clock efficiently. Everything should be fine for Detroit.
Prediction: Browns 10, Lions 38
Week 11, @ Chicago Bears/November 19, 2017
The Lions will take on another NFC North rival when they play the Bears in Chicago in Week 11. The Lions will get a second game in a row that they really should be able to handle quite easily. But, as stated earlier, you can’t afford to underestimate an opponent. The Lions lost a very winnable game to the Bears 17-14 in their first meeting last year. Once again, the Lions will have to play at their own pace and protect the ball, which they should be able to do pretty easily.
Prediction: Lions 35, Bears 7
Week 12, vs. Minnesota Vikings/November 23, 2017
The Lions will meet with the Vikings in the 2nd meeting of the season in Week 12. The Lions will have to replicate their Week 4 effort but later in the season. When you get deeper into the season, however, injuries become a factor. There are other variables that could affect the Lions and Vikings in this game too. Turnovers will be a big factor in this game. Since both teams have seen each other and know what to expect, whoever gets more opportunities to score is going to be pivotal.
Prediction: Vikings 14, Lions 17
Week 13, @ Baltimore Ravens/December 3, 2017
The Lions will take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13. The Ravens may have been an intimidating team in the recent past, but things have changed. The Ravens have slowly dropped off since their Superbowl title in 2013, which was also the same year that Detroit and Baltimore clashed last. The Lions defense will have to shut down the Ravens’ offense, while the offense will have to give the defense a lead to work with. The Ravens are a beatable team, but they can be dangerous.
Prediction: Lions 34, Ravens 14
Week 14, @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers/December 10, 2017
The Lions will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Bucs in a late-season pivotal game. The Lions are going to need to win games late in the season if they want to make the playoffs. Jameis Winston will have to be pressured all the time, and the Lions job is to keep him in the pocket and not let him escape. The Lions will also have to cover Mike Evans well, and not let him effect or take over the game.
Prediction: Lions 24, Buccaneers 28
Week 15, vs. Chicago Bears/December 16, 2017
The Lions will play the Bears at home for their second and final meeting of the year. The Lions should be able to handle the Bears at home, but just like the earlier meeting, you can never underestimate your opponents in the NFL. The Bears may have made some starting lineup changes since Week 11, so the Lions will have to adjust to that. They will also have to stop sophomore running back Jordan Howard, who was the brightest spot on the entire Bears roster last year.
Prediction: Bears 10, Lions 31
Week 16, @ Cincinnati Bengals/December 24, 2017
The Lions will battle the Bengals on Christmas Eve in Week 16. The Bengals are normally a fringe playoff team, but they struggled last year going 6-9-1. The Bengals have potential to be better this season, with Andy Dalton under center and an improved running game. The Lions defensive line will be pivotal in this game in stopping the run and putting pressure a Dalton to not let him get quality passes off.
Prediction: Lions 30, Bengals 21
Week 17, vs. Green Bay Packers/December 31, 2017
The Lions and Packers will meet for the 2nd time in the season on the last day of 2017. This game will most likely be the most important of the Lions’ season and has the possibility to carry an NFC North Championship to the winner. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford will be very important in this game. Both defenses will be facing a quarterback who can heavily impact a game at any point. Aaron Rodgers seems to give Detroit’s defense fits, so it’s important that they figure out how to shut him down.