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The Detroit Lions at the three-quarters mark: Offense

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The Lions have played 12 games. That is three-fourths of their season. They are 7-5. They should probably be better than that, but let us not gnash our teeth over the Bucs loss once again. Currently, the Lions sit atop the NFC North, and what they need to do in their final four games seems quite simple: Win two games. That's it. If Detroit can win two games and go 9-7, they should win their division, and actually get a home playoff game. The Lions own any tiebreaker, and a tiebreaker with the Packers is unlikely, since they have an actual tie. I doubt either Chicago or Green Bay can win 10 games. All the Lions have to do is win two games. I think they can do that, but will they?

However, let us take a moment to turn our eyes toward the 12 games that have been played thus far. How have the Lions performed in these contests? Here is a look at their offense through this point of the season.

I suppose I shall start with Matthew Stafford. Oh, Stafford. The last couple of games have not been a period of glory for him. He's been racking up the interceptions, and now he has 14 on the season, which is not good. On the other hand, he also has 27 touchdowns and 3,825 yards passing. He could cross 5,000 yards again, and he is averaging 7.7 yards per attempt, which is good. He's also rushed for a couple scores, so there's that. Then again, he's fumbled four times too, but only lost one.

Early on, it was looking like Stafford has turned some sort of corner. He had become one of the league's elite passers. However, now I am less confident in that. Don't get me wrong. He's very good, the occasional bad decision aside. He's probably one of the top 10 starters in this league. In fact, he almost certainly is. That works for me. That's good enough, at least for now.

The running game has been a two man project, with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell both having clear roles. Bush has rushed 180 times for 854 yards, including six rushes of over 20 yards. Bell has rushed 106 times for 435 yards, and only has one 20-yard run. However, Bush only has three touchdowns, and four fumbles, while Bell has six touchdowns, and only one fumble. Bush makes the big plays, while Bell is more of the short-yardage, power back. It is a nice balance.

Both also contribute in the passing game. Bush has 45 catches for 448 yards, while Bell has 34 for 378, while Bush has two touchdowns to none for Bell. Both of these guys are having really good years. I like them both as players. They are fun to watch and are giving the Lions some actual presence at running back, even if it is as much in the passing game as the running game.

As for the receivers, Calvin Johnson is the one one worth mentioning. Megatron has 72 receptions for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has 60 catches for a first down, and 19 of 20+ yards. All this, and he missed time. He is great. Nobody else is really notable. Kris Durham has had his moments. Nate Burleson is back, although you wouldn't know it from the Thanksgiving Day game. Joseph Fauria has 11 catches for six touchdowns, which is pretty cool.

Traditionally, the Lions are second in passing yards per game and 16th in rushing yards per game. Over at Football Outsiders, they are 13th in offense. They are 11th in passing, but only 24th in rushing. That's kind of concerning. This is sort of a team built on offense, right? Yet here they are, middle of the road at the moment. They've got some issues with the run, and even the passing numbers have come down. Stafford having a couple off games definitely hurt in that regard.

If the Lions are to make the playoffs, their offense will likely rank higher by Football Outsiders' metrics.


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