The Lions offense is finally on track, the defense is still playing well, and the 0-8 Browns are heading to Detroit on Sunday. This could be a classic trap game for the Lions coming off of a solid win at Lambeau Field, but I see the Lions taking care of business and winning at home.
Here are 10 things I think I know heading into Week 10 against the Browns:
1. I think Matthew Stafford is playing the best football of his career right now. It’s pretty amazing what a bye week can do. In the two games before the bye, Stafford threw for 541 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions, and had an average quarterback rating of 78.2.
In the two games since the bye, he’s thrown for 784 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, and has had a quarterback average quarterback rating of 109.1.
Stafford is clearly the best quarterback in the division right now. Which leads me to my next thought...
2. I think the Lions can take over the division. After beating Green Bay, the Lions are 4-4 overall and 2-0 in divisional games. The Vikings currently hold a two game lead over the Lions, but they have a much easier schedule going forward.
The Lions have some ground to make up, but it’s likely they’ll only be competing with the Vikings for the division over the next two months.
3. I think the offense is finally stepping up. They’re still struggling to punch it in when they’re on the goal line, but the offense as a whole has been impressive the last two weeks. The passing attack is running on all cylinders and the run game is doing just enough to keep teams honest.
4. I think the inability to score in the red zone can be blamed on the offensive line. It doesn’t matter if it’s Dwayne Washington, Ameer Abdullah, or Jim Brown, if the the line can’t open a hole, nobody is going to be able to score. Here’s a great example of the offensive line just not getting the job done Monday night against Packers:
A lot of the running issues has been the C and 2 G's missing assignment meaning they are playing catch up against the DT's or LB's. There were 2 good ways (red or Blue) to block for this sneak. They took the horrible 3rd option. (Yellow) All on OL for not seeing LB. pic.twitter.com/R02hJl166W— SandmanLions (@Sandman7773) November 8, 2017
5. I think Darius Slay is a legitimate lockdown cornerback. The Lions are now using Slay to match up against the opposing team’s best wideout. So far this season he’s gone up against Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Jordy Nelson.
Here’s the results via Pro Football Focus: 13 catches, 193 yards, and just one touchdown.
6. I think Briean Boddy-Calhoun is the best player you haven’t heard of. Boddy-Calhoun of the Browns is playing terrific so far this season. The Browns often put him on an island by himself and he still is one of the least targeted cornerbacks in the NFL.
The Lions may catch a break this week though, as it looks like he may miss time with a hamstring injury.
7. I think Glover Quin is my favorite current Lion. Quin is a consummate professional and clearly the leader of the Lions’ defense. He’s also one of the more enjoyable safeties to watch in the entire league because of plays like this:
there it is yeah that's filthy pic.twitter.com/JUlfgA7LuO— Kellie Rowe (@kellierowe) November 7, 2017
8. I think Golden Tate might be the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. Is there a receiver in the NFL that racks up catches and yards like Golden Tate and gets less national love? Tate has had over 90 catches each of the past three seasons and is on track to top that mark again this year.
He’s been mainly a slot receiver in 2017 and he’s clearly been the best one in the league through the first nine weeks.
9. I think the Browns can make the Lions one-dimensional on offense. The Lions still haven’t had a 100-yard running back this season and it doesn’t look like they’ll have one this week either. The Browns run defense has been stout so far this season.
Through the first nine weeks, they’ve been the best in the NFL, allowing opposing teams just 2.9 yards per carry. The Lions, on the hand, have averaged 3.2 yards per carry—the fourth worst in the NFL behind Miami, Arizona, and Cincinnati.
10. I think the Lions should easily win on Sunday. Cleveland hasn’t won one road game since 2015 and has only won four games total in that timeframe. The odds are definitely in the Lions favor. As it stands right now, the Lions are favored by as much as 12.5 over the Brown.
The Lions should have no trouble getting their fifth win this season.