Opinion: Lions Grabbing at NFC North Title

Watching the Lions play the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8 brought up some emotions in me that I’m not particularly proud of. I doubt I am alone amongst Lions fans that are tired of seeing what should have been an easy win come down to a last minute stroke of luck/skill/whatever else can describe Calvin Johnson’s miraculous fourth quarter catches. Right now, I would love nothing more than to see the Lions emerge from this season as the NFC North Champions. But first, they’ve got to beat the Bears.

Ndamukong Suh has stated that he would love another crack at Jay Cutler for their game on Sunday. As much as I would love to see Cutler (or Josh McCown) sacked five times by Suh, I’d rather just see a well-disciplined Lions team that’s ready to dominate the Bears take the field on Sunday.

One thing that few Lions fans have said in the last few years is that their games are boring to watch. Every second, the team provides something new for the fans to watch for. The Lions’ success against the Cowboys provided several highlight-worthy Dez Bryant tantrums, as well as an incredible receiving game by Calvin Johnson. Even the losses, except Green Bay, have been close.

Lately, the Lions have been relying more and more on their high-powered offense to get them through. In only one game have they held their opponent to under 20 points, and that was against the 4-5 Cleveland Browns. In short, if a team’s star receiver by himself gains more passing yards than most NFL teams in a given week, and it still barely ekes out a one point win, something is very wrong.

If the 5-3 Lions hope to keep their playoff chances realistic, they must win this Sunday at Soldier Field. Under Lovie Smith, the Bears were known for their defense. This year, Chicago ranks 23rd, in total defense while Detroit ranks 22nd. Most likely, this game will be a score-fest between high powered offenses and little defense. Thankfully, the Lions have weapons Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, and Johnson to fight.

Right now, the NFC North is a three-way tie for first place between the Bears, Lions, and Packers. A win against the Bears and an unlikely, but not impossible, Packers loss against Philadelphia would put Detroit in coveted first place for their division.

As for them holding on to first place, the Lions have gotten a rare opportunity. According to ESPN, Suh wishes Cutler (groin) and Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) speedy recoveries from their injuries because he wants to play the best. While beating (in Suh’s case, beating up) the best would be good for morale, winning against Rodgers’ backup Seneca Wallace is much more likely.

A Thanksgiving Day victory against Green Bay would be a huge step toward the division title. Provided the team wins against Chicago, beating the Packers would essentially let the Lions finish with a 5-1 division record. A loss against the currently 1-7 and injury-prone Minnesota Vikings seems unlikely.

Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

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