After a nail-biting and hair-pulling affair against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Detroit Lions come out of Soldier Field with a 27-24 victory. With the Minnesota Vikings winning their respective game as well on Sunday, the Lions remain two games out of first place with Minnesota being their next opponent on Thursday. This win also puts the Lions at a perfect 3-0 inside the division.
Despite catching a break with the missed last second field goal this really felt like a typical Lions win, but here are three things that stood out this game.
“GOOD, NOT GREAT” OFFENSE GETS THE JOB DONE
For a majority of the game, the Lions’ offense looked very flat. Outside of a 21-point outburst in the second quarter, Detroit struggled to consistently get anything going throughout the game.
The offense was almost exclusively passing. Matthew Stafford went 21/31 with 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Ameer Abdullah only had 22 yards on 11 carries. The Lions should try to figure out a better ground game to take the pressure off the quarterback… what else is new?
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But at the end of the day, 27 points on the road is a good offensive effort.
DEFENSE NEEDS WORK
The team got away with it last week and did again this week, but this defense has been giving up a lot of points to not-so-good offenses.
Last week, they let a Cleveland Browns offense that averages only 16 points a game score 24 points. It was a similar story on Sunday for a Bears team that averaged roughly 17 points per game with rookie Mitch Trubisky under center. Although they only gave up one score in the second half, they allowed 17 first-half points and nearly let the game slip away late.
The missed field goal bailed out a defense that gave up the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and later a huge first down on 4th & 13 that allowed the Bears to get into field goal range. If the Lions are going to make a serious run at the division, their defense is going to have to tie up some loose ends, especially given the fact that the majority of their remaining opponents carry pedestrian offenses.
BAD DAY FOR SPECIAL TEAMS
The kickoff can make or break any drive. In five kickoff returns on Sunday, the Lions only averaged 17.8 yards. In many cases, that isn’t any better than a touch back. Even though it only happens once in a drive, field position becomes a big factor throughout any game.
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In the Lions’ case this game, it created a longer field. Although big kickoff returns, or lack thereof rather, have not been their strong suit in 2017, Detroit still has an effective return unit elsewhere. The punt returns have been a strength most of the year and it didn’t stop them from winning this game.
The Lions (6-4) now prepare for a short week and their annual Thanksgiving festivities at Ford Field. They will welcome in division rival Minnesota with a chance to cut their division lead deficit down to one game. It will also be an opportunity to improve to a perfect 4-0 record within the NFC North.
The Vikings (8-2) rode their defense to a 24-7 win over the high-powered Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, upping their win streak to five games.