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NFC North Preview: Detroit Lions

| September 2nd, 2015

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

When I spoke with Detroit Lions fan Jeff Risdon last week, I was surprised by his optimism. Risdon is usually pretty down on the Lions, but he sees them as a team that will win 10 or more games and make the playoffs for the second straight year. Hell, he might be right, if the Lions catch a few breaks they just might be legitimate contenders for the NFC North title.

Why They’ll Win The North:

They almost did last year. Go back to their Week 3 game against the Packers and you’ll see they flat out bullied them. Aaron Rodgers left the game whining about Green Bay’s scheme — the same scheme that has had them among the highest scoring team in the league for almost a decade. The Lions had them stumped. They met again in Week 17 when the Packers were at their best and the game still came down to the fourth quarter.

The Lions didn’t catch the breaks the Packers did last year. Calvin Johnson was banged up nearly all year and they had injury issues throughout their offensive line. If they could have stayed healthy, there’s reason to think they would have won the division.

The Lions are also in their second year under head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. That should help Matt Stafford almost as much as an improved and healthy offensive line.

Their biggest addition was rookie running back Ameer Abdullah, who has had a few terrifying runs this preseason. Forget Barry Sanders, if he can just be what Jahvid Best was, it’ll be a huge upgrade over Reggie Bush.

As for their defense, Risdon strongly believes coordinator Teryl Austin is a mastermind and that guys like Caraun Reid and Tyrunn Walker can replace Ndamukong Suh.

Why They Won’t:

Suh is a lot to replace. It isn’t just that he was their best player and one of the five best defensive linemen in the league, he was their heart. They were bullies and he was the biggest bully on the block. There was always a chance that the opposing quarterback was going to get hurt and Suh was willing to take a 15-yard penalty to do it. We knew it and you can be damn sure opposing quarterbacks knew it. That fear factor is gone.

While the Lions offense struggled last year, it isn’t as if they’ve regularly been among the best units in the league. In the Stafford-era, the Lions have only ranked inside the top 15 in scoring twice and were 15th once. They’ve ranked much better in terms of yardage, but yards don’t win games.

While they won 10 games last year, most of Detroit’s wins came against subpar competition. Counting the playoffs, they were 1-6 against teams that either had a winning record or made the playoffs (a distinction that is necessary thanks to Carolina’s NFC South-winning record of 7-8-1). Four of their wins came by four points or fewer, six came by a touchdown or less.

Overview:

After talking to Risdon, I was drinking the Kool Aid. That, of course, also came after watching a couple of their preseason games, seeing how well their defense got after the quarterback and how electrifying Abdullah could be. All signs pointed to Detroit being really good.

But, I never felt like they were really good last year. Maybe it was the close games they had against bad teams. Maybe it was how they got blowout by the Patriots a week after losing to the Cardinals, led by Drew Stanton. The Lions were two or three bad breaks away from being 8-8. Those breaks just might go against them this year.

But if Austin is as good as Risdon thinks he is and the Lions have a top-five defense again, they’ll be tough to beat. They should be at least a little better offensively and that would be enough to get them to 10 wins again. If Detroit stays healthy and the Packers suffer one more significant injury, the Lions could even steal the division.

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  • IMO Detroit takes a step back this year, but it won’t be as big of a step as many people think.

    Like Jeff hints at here, they were really more like an 8-8 or 9-7 team than an 11-5 one last year, so I think finishing with 8 or 9 wins seems pretty realistic.

    • Huge Bear’s Penis

      i love it when Jeff hints about records in Dennehy’s post. Classic Jeff!

    • Irish Sweetness

      Toughest division in the NFL this year? Assuming a Bears’ renaissance, naturellement.

  • Waffle

    Caurun Reid sure as well better not replace suh, wasn’t that guy on our practice squad?

    • nope, Detroit drafted him last year. He was a guy I wanted as a 3T if they missed on Donald and Sutton, but they landed Sutton.

  • Irish Sweetness

    You were drinking more than the kool aid, Jefe.

    I can see two teams on 8-8 and 9-7. If there’s an improver, it’s Minnesota. They could go 10-6 and steal the division. Bridgewater is the real deal. They have two good receivers in Wallace and Johnson. AP in the backfield. Their roster has been moving like a well-oiled machine – albeit in pre-season.

    It’s Minny we have to sweep. Do we have two inside linebackers to stop AP ?

  • willbest

    I like Tillman, but its clear his body is failing him. Torn tricep twice, and now a concussion. Plus life is easier on any defense with an all pro Mike

  • CanadaBear

    Never been sold on Stafford or the Kitties. Stafford can become a turnover machine and he has the heart of a politician (as in none). To me it all depends on breaks and injuries. If they get the breaks, they could make the playoffs. If not, nope. Same with the BiQueens. However, both will be better than the Beloved.

    • MB30SD

      agree on all.

    • Trac

      Any bozo can pick the Lions based on their record last year. Nope, not gonna happen Andrew. My gut is that Minny will be the team to beat this year. Green Bay won’t even make the playoffs and I don’t see any wild cards coming from the North.

  • MB30SD
  • Trac

    I love it anytime the discussion leads to the Lions being a contender because I can sit back and enjoy the image conjured up in my mind of MB’S eyebrow twitching. Hahaha

    Watch out for the Lions buddy.

    • MB30SD

      I see you down there trac. Here’s my take…

      Packers: 10-6 – the magical QB wizard pulls the rest of their mediocrity into the playoffs where they lose something terrible in game 1. Arrow pointing to the left… same old, no matter who they lose or how bad their draft is (it’s never that bad), the wizard will have them in contention. It’s just our curse.

      Lions: 9-7 – The lesbian chokes yet again in the second to last game of the year knocking them out of the payoffs and sending them back home to their perpetual state of emergency. Arrow pointing to the right… stay the course, megatron is getting older and the lezzy is the lezzy… choke master flash (love you buddy).

      Vikings: 8-8 – Teddy Bridgewater… seriously Irish? Come on maings. They’ll show flashes and win some good games with their D, but teddy isn’t a star and AP is done in minny. Arrow pointing up though, they’ll be contenders in the north for a while.

      Bears: 7-9 – No matter how good Fox, Fangio, and Gase will be… we just don’t have the players or any semblance of an identity as a football team yet. This year will go towards establishing that base, and the next 2 years should be very exciting as a bears fan. Call it our phoenix-like rise from the depths of badness. Arrow way up (we have real coaches again!!)

      DISCLAIMER: I can neither confirm nor deny any allegations brought to light in the above assessment, and said assessment could turn out to be totally and completely wrong. Writer absolves himself from any wrongdoing and is just glad he’s going to have football back and a great excuse to go to a bar and hit on hot dumb sd chicks at least twice a week now.

      • BerwynBomber

        Those predicts seem solid. Do have to admit I am a bit with Trac on being a tad higher on Minny. Yeah, Teddy isn’t a star but he might prove solid enough to be a QB on a WC team. Hell, Andy Dalton gets to the playoffs nearly every year (which btw, was where Minny’s HC used to coach D).

        AP done? I think he has no more than two years left in the tank but he still could be a beast this coming year, and let’s face it, whatever doubts there are about Bridgewater, he is arguably the best QB AP has played with since Farve. Plus, I like their HC. Zimmer strikes me as the real deal. A young Fox, if you will. And their D seems young, hungry and prospectively talented.

        Disclaimer noted.

        • MB30SD

          Agree on minny to be honest BB, I just can’t type that they’ll be good again. My body won’t let me. I think teddy is pretty interesting and could become solid, he def shows flashes… that said, I see it going either way for them.

          I specifically said AP is done IN MINNY. I think he has plenty in the tank, just don’t think he wants to be there and it’s hard to blow it out when your heart isn’t in it any more. We’ll see. I could see both the lions and minny catching some breaks and both getting into the playoffs.

      • willbest

        I was feeling 7-9 or 8-8 earlier. But with the WR core decimated, Mills inability to demonstrate the same skill he had his rookie season, Ratliff’s 3 game suspension, and even Ryan Mundy (who lets face it was our best safety) on IR, I am feeling 6-10.

        • SC Dave

          I go 7-9, since I think we’ll steal one with specials.

  • Huge Bear’s Penis
    • MB30SD

      “That would be pretty good return for a player that the Texans signed as an undrafted free agent this summer and likely would have been cut on Saturday if not for the trade.”

      Ummmmm… angelo/emery, is that you?

      WTF pace?!?!

      • Waffle

        hmmm, he’s had a Zach Miller type preseason though. Do you think Rosario played his way out of town?

        • MB30SD

          I’ve watched a total of one quarter of preseason thus far (and it was chargers v. sea hawks), so can’t really comment yonny… but giving up a fucking draft pick (even a 6) for some UDFA who was about to be cut seems fucking ridiculous.

          Maybe I have PTSD from our past GMs, but you don’t see guys like fucking Newsome or thompson making desperate seemingly idiotic moves like this… seems like biz as usual for the Bears. I’m hoping I’m overreacting and there’s a good reason for this (both biz-wise and player-wise)

          • Bender McLugh

            could be there were other offers for the TE. Seems there’s some buddy-buddy action going on between the Texans & Bears.

          • MB30SD

            sigh… at least we’ve moved up from buddy buddy deals with the likes of tampa and the fucking jags

          • Bender McLugh

            Amen I said amen

        • SC Dave

          Maybe its a message to Uni.

    • BearDown100393

      With all the cuts going on in the NFL, why give up a draft pick?

      • MB30SD

        us

      • Huge Bear’s Penis

        cut players get to choose which team they will sign with. no guarantee he would sign with us. other teams could be in need of a TE and could be much more appealing than the Bears.

  • The GP

    Repost:

    Story of Miguel. Kid in Elkhart, IN who names his brain tumor after Rodgers. He’s a Bears fan.

    Kid has raised $2k on his caring site in a YEAR. Clearly, the kid needs more publicity and sympathizers. And if you can’t relate to a kid who names his tumor Rodgers, then your name is Cheesy or you don’t belong on DBB.

    Remember: Tim Jennings just left town whereby the Bears have to pay him $4 million dollars not to play football for them. Thank you Phil Emery, you douche wagon.

    This kid has only raised $2k in a year of asking for anything you can do. And he starts his 4th round of chemo this month. Think about it. Thanks to Waffle and RenoBear and anyone else I missed who chipped in so far.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/miguel-reyes-brain-tumor-aaron-rodgers_55e5d128e4b0aec9f3549604

    https://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/all-in-for-mighty-miguel/255674

    https://imgflip.com/i/qg1ev

    • MB30SD

      done

      • Waffle

        lol, it would be badass if Rodgers donated.

        • MB30SD

          sure they will.

          Send it to rodgers, let’s see what kind of man he is.

        • BerwynBomber

          I suspect Rodgers will if he knows about it. I believe he has some “Make a Wish” type charity in his name that he is personally involved in.

          Heck, maybe even Cheesy himself will.

    • Waffle

      GP, way to come strong man. He’s fighting and that’s the only thing you can do. Stuart Scott said it best, “when you die, it doesn’t mean you lose to cancer, you beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner is which you live…..so live, live, and fight like hell and when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let someone fight for you.”

    • BerwynBomber

      Done

    • RenoBear

      Done last night, thanks for reposting GP. If everyone who reads this blog, whether they post or not, threw $20 or more in, this kid should get s good bit of financial help (according to how many page hits this place gets apparently? According to Jefe

    • Johnnywad

      Done. Fuck Aaron Rodgers.

  • MB30SD
  • MB30SD
    • The GP

      Tabbed by one website as the “biggest freak” in the college game, the 6’9″, 275-pound Oakman sports a lime-green mohawk. Muscles bulge from every limb, and tattoos are graffitied across his chiseled torso.

      “SAVAGE,” one of them reads… In 2012 people said Andrew Luck was the best pro prospect to ever come through the NFL combine,” Gaines says. “But this spring I won’t be surprised if Shawn has the best combine of anyone in history.”

      Such praise doesn’t surprise coaches at Baylor, where Oakman has continued to one-up himself in the weight room since his arrival in 2012.

      This summer Oakman did four pull-ups with a 120-pound harness attached to his body. His bench-press (500 pounds) and squat (600) numbers are even more impressive considering the length of his arms and legs. And his time in the 40-yard dash (4.8 seconds) is unheard of for a guy who weighs 275.

      Oakman has gained 40 pounds since arriving at Baylor three years ago. His body fat was recently measured at 6 percent.

      Jesus Christ. He could eat the MSU ‘roided Tony Mandarich and shit him out the same day.

      • MB30SD

        I waaaaaaaaant hiiiiiiiiim as a Bear

        • The GP

          Try to picture him where Jenoris Jenkins is now. Christ.

          • MB30SD

            I have, I HAVE!

            He’s the new clowney… but without the breaky… so far. Guy looks like an absolute freak of nature, which doesn’t bode well historically, but still.

          • The GP

            Double team, Schmubble team

          • MB30SD

            (open-mouth drooling)

          • Trac

            I’ll bet you Lovies biltong the cat is slow.

          • MB30SD

            at 6’7″ and 275, he runs a 4.8. He needs to put on another 10-15 for the nfl, but I bet the right trainer can keep him around the same speed.

            That’s plenty ‘in-line’ speed for a DE as long as he’s quick. I’d be more worried about the Vernon gholston freak of nature effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Gholston

          • DaMurph

            Alonzo Spellman freak?

          • MB30SD

            going old skool. Damn… straight up OG.

          • Trac

            Your buddy Clay Mathews ran a 4.58 in college.

            Gholston 4.67
            Clowny 4.53
            Peppers 4.68
            Allen 4.63

          • MB30SD

            yeah, I get it… and he’s bigger and stronger than all of those guys. I can beat clowney’s bench press rep count today after not being in the gym for 6 weeks. (i.e., not very impressive)

            That said, gym strength and field strength don’t always map. THAT said, this kid seems to be a total freak and his size/strength might make up for some of the lack of speed.

          • DaMurph

            Shades of Alonzo Spellman?

      • Waffle

        I still find it amazing that some kids actually survive and make it out of situations like that.

    • Trac

      Meh. He’s too bad ass. He’d ruin the team chemistry on the Bears.

      #lyingthroughmyteeth

      • DaMurph

        Yeah I knew you were lyin!

    • SC Dave

      I liked that article. Wherever he ends up, I wish the kid well. Unless, of course, its Green Bay.

  • BerwynBomber

    DET won’t miss Bush except in spots and those spots will be offset by their three-headed RB crew of Bell, Riddick and Abdulla. In fact, don’t look now but DET may have one of the best group of RBs in the league.

    Stafford is a bit like Cutty. Has some eye-popping talent but generally rates no more than as an average starter. Nothing horrible with that (except in terms of inflated salary). A team can win with a guy like that (although maybe only to a point) so long as the players and/or coaching are strong enough surrounding him.

    Donkey Kong is a huge loss but on the flip side Caldwell might just be a huge gain as an HC (in comparison to Shorts) and by a majority of opinion Austin sounds like the shit as a DC.

    W/out knowing their sked, I’ll say 9-7.

    • BearDown100393

      The only thing standing in the way for Matt Stafford becoming the next Jared Lorenzen is being locked in a Golden Corral for a weekend.

      • BerwynBomber

        Yeah, pie face looks like he is jonesing to eat with the lineman.

      • SC Dave

        Bridgewater will be better than Stafford.

  • Waffle

    MB, my co-worker was eating Hot Cheetos and likes Rap so it was only fitting that I send him the perfect combination of the two:

    • MB30SD

      Hahahahaha… awesome.

      People *actually* eat those things in real life?!

    • Scharfinator

      I forgot all about this video. It’s got pretty great production value.

  • The GP

    Oh, and this Bears secondary couldn’t use Charles Tillman? Dumb move then. Dumb move now.

    Sigh……. oh Jeff…..

    • Scharfinator

      Tillman, as great of a guy as he is, riding the bench for another season won’t help the secondary. His heart is there, his body isn’t.

    • BearDown100393

      Right because John Fox knows he must have a guy on his football team who would tear out both triceps lacing up his cleats for practice.

      • The GP

        Tillman’s WHOLE GAME is predicated on being a zone corner in C2.

        Now you want to convert him, at his age, to a bump and run guy who turns his head off the QB? When all his intelligence was based on that?

        Also, he’s already pulled his groin for the Panthers.

        • BerwynBomber

          On top of the concussion?

          • The GP

            Yes, on top of the concussion.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Sorry, Peanut was done. I’d have been more than happy to keep him around as a coach.

      • SC Dave

        Esp if he could teach the punch

  • The GP

    Looks like the NFL’s army of lawyers leaned on Will Smith and Sony to pull some scenes. this info was actually part of the leaked Sony emails that sent Amy Pascal packing.

    http://fortune.com/2015/09/02/sony-concussion-cut-scenes-nfl/

    • BearDown100393

      Yes because Roger Goodell deep down in the bowels of whatever exists as a human heart truly believes it is better for the NFL to be found out that it wanted to scenes cut from a movie instead of just sitting on the fence with this one.

      • SC Dave

        Goodell would have gone ballistic over North Dallas forty

        • BearDown100393

          He still deciding whether or not to suspend Nolte.

  • The GP

    Seems familiar….

    http://www.theonion.com/r/2500

  • The GP
    • BerwynBomber

      Briggs ain’t bad on TV; certainly better than Lach. Not a bad move for both sides.

      Btw, anyone ever catch Israel Idionije on whichever Chicago affiliate is employing him? Surprisingly articulate.

      • SC Dave

        I’ll go with articulate, but not woth surprisingly

    • MB30SD
  • MB30SD

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