The Detroit Lions in the NFL Playoffs? Be patient


Nov 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) reacts after tackling Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (not pictured) during the second half at Soldier Field. Detroit defeats Chicago 21-19. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are coming off another momentum building win over the Chicago Bears. This gives Detroit the outright lead in the NFC North through week 10 of the NFL season. Defensively this was more impressive than their win against Dallas. How did this happen? Detroit’s defense completely shut down perennial Lions killer and Pro Bowler Matt Forte, who was held to a combined 49 yards. Detroit also recorded two sacks while Chicago had zero.

That protection allowed Mathew Stafford to manage a balanced rush and pass attack, earning Calvin Johnson another stellar multi-touchdown performance to compliment Bush’s big day on the ground. Rocky McIntosh and Don Carey were defensive stalwarts, while Nick Fairley proved that he has Chicago’s number again by stuffing Matt Forte on the failed two point try to win the game.

As a lifelong Lions fans this is mind boggling. Normally by this point of season we are scouting college prospects for the NFL draft. This is a different era of Lions football, the “same old Lions,” mantra is in the past. This team is learning to close out games they are used to losing late. A moment of maturity took place immediately after the game as the clock ran out. No players were running around hysterically and went straight to the locker room.

The most emotion shown all game was Nick Fairley rightfully celebrating his game winning stop.  He was even shown crying on the sidelines afterwards, that was real and raw emotion. As social media erupted with posts about the Detroit Lions surely going to win the division, the players walked to the locker room. In the post game press conference, Jim Schwartz  shot down the notion that this season was now gift wrapped for a division title.

Detroit has seven games remaining and  taking them one step at a time will be key. It’s to be noted that their opponents combined have a winning percentage of less than five hundred as did the first nine opponents and the Lions still lost three games.  This Sunday Detroit will travel to Heinz Field to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, sitting at 3-6 and last place in the AFC North. Detroit should win this game as Pittsburgh’s defense appears to have vanished this season and their offense is erratic as well.

Following Pittsburgh the Lions play two games at home against the win less Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers. These are both must win games. If Mathew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush continue to perform as the big three they are capable of, both games are won. Tampa Bay has fight but not enough talent. Then with Aaron Rodgers likely sitting out, Detroit must beat Green Bay which would give them the majority of the division tie breaking scenarios.  It’s great to have such a vital nationally televised Thanksgiving game.

It’s looking as if the division winner will need ten to eleven wins which is possible with the remaining schedule. It will all come down to quality coaching, leadership and smash mouth defense which the Lions are capable of. This will be an exciting seven games and the Motor City would be a sight to see if hosting a first round playoff game.