The NFL pre season is behind us. Let’s take a look toward the regular season with game-by-game predictions:
September 9th vs. the St. Louis Rams: Result: Win. Comment: The Lions start off with a solid win in their home opener against a young Rams team with new coach Jeff Fisher. This is a matchup between former number one pick quarterbacks – Lions Matthew Stafford and the Rams Sam Bradford.
September 16th at the San Francisco 49ers: Result: Loss. Comment: Handshake gate week proves too much for the Lions in this Sunday night football road battle. The coaches may prove to be better sportsmen at the end of this one, but the play is as physical and as intense as last season’s October game at Ford Field.
September 23rd at the Tennessee Titans: Result: Win. Comment: Lions coach Jim Schwarz returns to Nashville for his first game against his former team – where he served as defensive coordinator. The Lions escape with a win against an improving Titans team who will take some lumps with second-year quarterback Jake Locker starting.
September 30th vs. the Minnesota Vikings: Result: Win. Comment: The Lions return home with a victory against their division rival. The Vikings will be the weakest of the NFC North foes and the Lions need to take advantage of this opportunity, especially if Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is not yet 100% after off-season surgery.
October 14th at the Philadelphia Eagles: Result: Loss. Comment: The Lions got kudos for how they played Michael Vick in 2010 at Ford Field. They will need a similar game plan to have a chance in Eagles country in 2012. The Eagles have a lot of weapons and traditionally play well at home.
October 22nd at the Chicago Bears: Result: Loss. Comment: This Monday Night Football game is a rematch of last year’s Monday night game at Ford Field that the Lions prevailed in. I expect the Bears to turn the tables in this one, similar to how they blew out the Lions in Chicago last November.
October 28th vs. the Seattle Seahawks: Result: Win. Comment: The Lions return home for the first time in a month and find comfort in playing the improving Seahawks, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The Lions badly need this home win after a pair of road losses and they get it behind an outstanding offensive performance.
November 4th at the Jacksonville Jaguars: Result: Win. Comment: Assuming that the Lions play well at home, in order to make the playoffs again they will need to take advantage of some road opportunities. The Jaguars offer an excellent opportunity with their lackluster offense and improving defense. This would complete the first half of the season with a 5-3 record – one game off the 6-2 pace of 2011.
November 11th at the Minnesota Vikings: Result: Win. Comment: This road contest will prove more difficult playing the Vikings in Minnesota. Last year the Lions had to rally to win there. Traditionally the Lions have not played well in Minnesota, but this isn’t your father’s Vikings. The Lions get it done on the road against their division rival.
November 18th vs. the Green Bay Packers: Result: Loss. Comment: The Packers lost at Ford Field in 2010 on their way to a Super Bowl victory. Last year the Lions played the Packers close at home on Thanksgiving Day. This is the Lions best shot at beating the Packers this year – forget about on the road. However, the Packers passing game will prove too much for the Lions secondary in this home loss for Detroit.
November 22nd vs. the Houston Texans: Result: Win. Comment: Can the Lions pick up the pieces after the Packers loss four days later on Thanksgiving Day? The guess here is that they will finally win on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2003. The Texans have a great offense and an improving defense, but face a hungry Lions team trying to prove something on national television. The Lions pull it out at home.
December 2nd vs. the Indianapolis Colts: Result: Win. Comment: The Lions will get a good look at rookie quarterback Andrew Luck in this one. The Colts are rebuilt and younger than the Peyton Manning led teams of a few years ago. While I expect the Colts to improve each week, I doubt they will have enough fire power on either side of the ball to steal a road win from the Lions.
December 9th at the Green Bay Packers: Result: Loss. Comment: Have the Lions won in Green Bay in my lifetime? Hardly. I don’t expect much to change in this Sunday night battle in cold December. The Lions may be slowly catching up to the Packers in some areas; they still have to break through with a road win in Green Bay to take hold of the division. My guess is that they won’t do it.
December 16th at the Arizona Cardinals: Result: Win. Comment: Staring at an 8-5 record, in the heat of a playoff push, this Cardinals game looks similar to last year’s Raiders road win in late December. On paper, the Lions should do well against the Cardinals, but playing well and winning on the road late in the season are tough. If the Lions win here they will be 9-5 and in good shape to earn a playoff spot.
December 22nd vs. the Atlanta Falcons: Result: Loss. Comment: With the final two games at home, Lions fans will expect a pair of wins to give them momentum going into the playoffs. Not so fast (as ESPN’s Lee Corso says every five minutes) as the Lions can’t get past a talented Falcons team also hungry to make a playoff run of their own. I was at the 2011 Falcons/Lions game and while the Lions played well, the Falcons seem to have their number.
December 30th vs. the Chicago Bears: Result: Win. Comment: Both teams may need a win to get into the playoffs in this final home matchup between division rivals. I think that the Lions will prevail here against a Bears team that seems to fall apart each year toward the end with injuries and ineffective quarterback play.
If I did the math correctly, that would be a second-straight 10-6 record, which should be good enough for a second Wild Card Playoff birth. Of course as a Lions fan, I am hoping for more wins and a division title (and beyond?) but I am also trying to be realistic. Everyone enjoy the game on Sunday – NFL football is back
I have been a die hard Lions fan since 1991. I played football in high school and began a college playing career at Wayne State before hanging up the cleats. I will try to provide a perspective on my favorite NFL team as the season progresses for the Patch.