Archive for the ‘Detroit Lions’ Category

Six Hidden Matchups Between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings

Saturday, December 13th, 2014
Kent Lee Platte
Last week the Detroit Lions secured their second winning record in a decade.  While that alone means a lot for the embattled franchise, even more important is the possibility, albeit a slim one, that the Lions secure their first NFCN title ever.  Coming into their week 15 match up against the Vikings, the Lions have a chance to move one step closer to securing a playoff berth and attempt to do what was once thought impossible for Detroit…win a playoff game.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, and instead concentrate on the match up at hand.  More specifically, the hidden match ups!

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah vs. Matt “Notafanofanalytics” Kalil

Recently, Matt Kalil has made some headlines over his criticism of the analytics site Pro Football Focus.  Now, I won’t go into the merits or flaws with PFF itself, I’ll only mention the common knowledge that the site’s grades have been quoted on NFL Network, ESPN, and a number of other reputable sources and is considered one of the frontrunners in football analytics.  Matt Kalil doesn’t think much of their grading system, which sees him as one of the worst players in the NFL and easily one of the worst tackles.  Kalil has somehow managed to allow 12 sacks all by himself this season.  Even if PFF’s grading system was as flawed as Kalil claims it is, he’s having a terrible season and should be man enough to admit it.

Since he isn’t, he’ll need someone to do the humbling for him.  No one was better at putting Matt Kalil to task than Ziggy Ansah was in their last match up.  Ansah beat Kalil like a dirty carpet, notching 2.5 sacks and something like 400 QB hurries (estimated).  The joke at the time was that Ansah broke Kalil.  If the struggling LT’s performance has been any indication, that might actually be right.  Ansah will square off against Kalil again, only this time he will be doing so at home with some of that Detroit noise to help him.  On top of giving up the most sacks, Kalil is also the most penalized tackle in the game.  This isn’t even really a “Hidden” match up, it’s only mentioned here because I expect it to be a hidden comedy in a football game.  Or a tragedy, if you’re a Vikings fan.

Calvin Johnson vs. Xavier Rhodes

The Vikings have not been good this season, but it shouldn’t take away from individual achievements.  Xavier Rhodes is quickly morphing into one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, and has been fantastic in the second half of this season for the Vikings.  It isn’t a good thing, as a Lions fan, to see a divisional opponent land a good one, but it looks like Johnson will be finishing off his career having traded Tillman for Rhodes.  Johnson has been on fire since coming back from his injury, with only a short road to go to get over 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career.

Johnson and Rhodes won’t always line up across from one another.  The addition of Tate, coupled with how Mike Zimmer runs his scheme, means that they’ll be the primary match up but not the only one.  What I mean to say is that Johnson should eat against the Vikings secondary.  It just won’t be against Rhodes, most likely.  If it is, however, we can probably completely table the “Calvin on the decline” talks for another season or two.

Matthew Stafford vs. Mike Zimmer


Speaking of Mike Zimmer, this isn’t the first time the Lions have lined up across from a Mike Zimmer defense.  The Bengals, then with Zimmer as defensive coordinator, beat the Lions 27-24 at Ford Field.  It was a heart breaking loss in a sloppy game, something Lions fans have been more than familiar with in their time. Stafford had success on the stat sheet against the Bengals, but in the game he struggled with, well, the normal things he struggled with in 2013 (Footwork, poise, etc.).  Zimmer has been working through a lot of issues on his team, but he’s been turning that defense around quickly, as expected, and he’s a strong defensive coach.

Stafford has been on fire the past couple of weeks.  It was one thing to light up the floundering Chicago Bears the way that he did,  it was another entirely to beat on the Buccaneers.  Now I know, the Bucs have a worse record and are in contention to be the top pick in the 2015 draft.  Their defense isn’t the reason why, however, and Stafford lit them up like a Christmas tree (Tis the season). The Vikings may be without several of their best defensive players in this match up, but I’m still betting this is going to be a tough match up for Stafford.

Glover Quin vs. Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater had a terrible outing against the Detroit Lions in their first match up.  The 8 sacks are the most quoted statistic, but his 3 interceptions is equally telling.  Bridgewater threw two interceptions to Tahir Whitehead and another to Glover Quin.  Since that time, however, Bridgewater has been opening up his playing style and attempting more downfield passes.  Those types of passes can mean more big plays, but against an opportunistic defense that can both bring pressure and cover it can mean more mistakes.

Quin is having a pro bowl season, though he’s unlikely to go this season due to name recognition.  Still, this is a game where I expect Quin to just explode.  He’s facing a rookie QB who had discovered his downfield throwing arm.  He has Suh in the middle and Ansah facing a turnstile tackle.  He has Slay playing lights out.  Ultimately, Bridgewater is going to try to challenge the Lions safeties at some point in this game.  I like Quin’s odds, and think a multiple interception game isn’t out of the question, even likely.

Jim Caldwell vs. Looking Ahead

Earlier this week, Aaron Rodgers mocked Stephen Tulloch’s injury, possibly while twirling his mustache and adjusting his monacle.  Rodgers is a caricature for Lions fans, a cartoon.  He’s in a league of his own in terms of talent and game play, but he’s just so darn unlikeable.  That doesn’t prevent Rodgers from being a leading MVP candidate.  And yet…the Detroit Lions and their Free Hurt defense straight up embarrassed Rodgers in their week 3 match up.  That’s like Harry Potter kicking Voldemort in the junk at the beginning of the first book/movie.  Doesn’t change the impression of the person…but it kinda does.

Jim Caldwell, by all indications, is paying attention to each game as they come.  He’s preached a week to week mentality that the team has seemingly bought into.  That said, it’s difficult to buy into the week to week thing as a fan.  It HAS to be tough as a player not to peek a little, especially when there’s a cackling scarecrow insulting your teammates out there.  Can Caldwell keep the team focused as they head into this week’s game?

Adrian Peterson…er…Jerick McKinnon?  No wait…  Matt Asiata vs. Free Hurt

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The SportsManias Tour Hits Detroit (Video)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

One of the best parts of the NFL is the fan experience. No matter how big your television, how comfy your couch or how fancy your grill at home, it’s always better to join with the company of others for pregame and postgame festivities.

This is a big reason why many folks still attend games. As Alex Perrault recently found out, Detroit knows how to tailgate. Perrault is tailgating his way across America, and the video here shows how awesome and unusual Lions fans celebrate game day.

If the video doesn’t load for you, you can also watch it here on YouTube.

Makes me want to eat some ribs in a hot tub!


Six Hidden Match Ups between the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, December 7th, 2014
Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

 

Kent Lee Platte

After two devastating road losses against the Cardinals and Patriots, things were looking pretty dire for the Detroit Lions, who watched the Green Bay Packers waltz back into first place in the NFCN.  Unlike Lions teams in the past, this team pulled together on national TV to blow out their division rival Chicago Bears and put themselves back on the national map.  As much as the defense had carried the team this season, it was the offense that got put back into the spotlight, and Matthew Stafford was on fire.  The Buccaneers are 2-10, but despite their record they are no pushover team.  The Lions should win this game on paper, but paper doesn’t help on game day.  What are the under the radar match ups that you’re looking forward to see this week?  Here are some of mine.  Let me know in the comments if you agree or if there are others you’re excited about! (more…)


Lions vs. Bears: Six Hidden Matchups

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Kent Lee Platte, @MathBomb

It isn’t often that a team plays the #1 team in the NFC and AFC in back to back weeks, but the Detroit Lions did just that. They lost both games, which concerns me much less than the fact they didn’t score a TD in either.  Moving on to their annual Thanksgiving game, the Lions return home against the Chicago Bears. As a division  game, there are always big stories, even more so with the Lions soaring and the Bears doing the opposite. There are still those under the radar matches I love so much, so let’s once again take a look at the hidden match ups for the Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears! (more…)


Detroit Lions Mock Draft 2.0

Monday, November 24th, 2014
Photo from Deseret News

Photo from Deseret News

Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

For this second edition I decided to come up with some parameters to help frame the decision-making process. I think all of the situations here are capable of happening between now and the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before the draft, the Lions have made the following moves: (more…)


Six Hidden Match Ups between the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

dolphin

By Kent Lee Platte

With Calvin Johnson sidelined, few had high hopes for the Detroit Lions, who had long suffered whenever their best players were ff the field. To the surprise of everyone, most notably the Saints and Falcons, the Lions lumbered on to a 3-0 record without the future hall of famer.  The #1 defense and free agent addition Golden Tate at wide receiver carried the team to a 6-2 record at the midpoint of the season. Time enough for a Bye to regain health and rest. They won’t have an easy day for their first game back, as they go up against a hot Miami Dolphins team coming off a blowout victory against the Chargers. This was an exciting game to plan for, as there are so many strong match ups on both sides of the ball. Even so there are plenty of hidden stories to look forward to in this key game.

Tahir Whitehead vs. Ryan Tannehill

In the past few seasons,  the Lions had little to fear from scrambling quarterbacks due to the presence of an athletic, smart middle linebacker in Stephen Tulloch. Tulloch left the season early, however, with a torn ACL, leaving those duties to a far more athletic but far rawer Tahir Whitehead. He has been sharing duties with Josh Bynes, but I find it hard to think the team will match up Bynes, who has strong instincts but poor speed, against Tannehill. Instead, it’s likely Whitehead who will draw this tough assignment, which will stretch his development to the limits. Can Whitehead show he’s developed to more than just a fill in role and really own that middle linebacker spot?

Golden Tate vs. Cortland Finnegan

A starting wide receiver, especially one presently rated in the top five, is rarely considered a hidden match up. In Tate’s case, he’s back to playing second fiddle to Calvin Johnson in the elite receivers return to the field. With as much as Tate has shown, it’s interesting to me to see him back in the number two role. It’s even more interesting to see him matched up with a player like Finmegan, who is known for his on field antics. Tate is a fiery competitor, and despite being one of the worst cornerbacks in football as a Ram, Finnegan has only been mediocre instead of terrible as a Dolphin.  It won’t be long before this one gets chippy.

Kyle Van Noy vs. The Road Back

I have written before about how the Detroit Lions are asking a LOT out of their rookie linebacker. He has been injured, so we haven’t been able to see if he has grown at all, but I doubt the team suddenly expects less of him. Van Noy was doing it all in camp, dropping into coverage, rushing from the edge, cutting gaps, just everything.  He showed how difficult the transition was with his preseason struggles, but we’ll finally get to see some regular season action. Van Noy has modeled his play (and his beard) after DeAndre Levy, who continues to play at an all pro level.  Will the rookie shine early, or will the struggle continue?

The Quarterbacks vs. The Schemes

It should come as a surprise to no one that Matthew Stafford has struggled against good pass defenses. Ryan Tannehill is in the same boat, as he found far less success against weaker defenses than he did against strong ones. It seems pretty intuitive that it would be an issue, but I’m not talking about a small dropoff for either signal caller.  This will be, for both players, their toughest match up of the season. The only top tier pass defenses the two have faced are the Bills and the Packers. Both lost against the Bills, while Stafford was able to notch a win against the rival Packers. It’s a tough match up on both sides.

Joe Lombardi vs. Louis Delmas

It’s still strange to see Delmas in a different uniform. The former Western Michigan Bronco had spent his entire pro career with the Lions before moving to the Dolphins in free agency this past offseason. Delmas has been a solid acquisition for the Dolphins, but some of his old tendencies are still present.  Joe Lombardi has not lived up to his namesake,  but I still hold out hope he can exploit a match up so obvious that even casual fans can see it. I would love to see some more creative routes on the inside of the field, drawing the safeties in so when the receiver changes direction we can see a safety slip sliding the wrong way. Delmas has been better coached in Miami than he ever was in Detroit, but he still makes some of those mistakes.  It’d be good for karma, anyway, it owes us some.

The Lions Defense vs. A Whole Lot of History

The Lions defense is presently ranked first in both yards per game and points per game. It’s the first time the team has ever had this distinction since becoming the Detroit Lions, with its last mention being the 1931 Portsmouth Spartans. Traditionally, the team has had their collapses and it has always started on the defensive side of the ball. The time is now for the team to give tradition the middle finger and really ram home how dominant they can be. Despite the sore loss of Nick Fairley, this is too good of an opportunity for a statement to be made. Not even necessarily a win,  though that would obviously be best. National outlets are already trying to find other defenses they think are the best, because it just can’t be the Lions, can it? This team needs to put their defense firmly on the map and mop the floor with Tannehill and co.






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