Believe it or not, but the Detroit Lions may be in the playoff race.
Detroit got to 3-3 after a last second victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. They are back at .500 and, miraculously, only a game away from the seven seed in the NFC. With a tiebreaker in hand over the Arizona Cardinals—who are at 5-2 in the playoff race—and a new boost to their pass rushing after trading for pass rusher Everson Griffen, the Lions could end the season in a position that felt impossible only a few weeks ago.
That makes Week 8’s matchup against the Indianapolis Colts a crucial one. First, obviously, because 4-3 is a much better record than 3-4. A win for Detroit would put them over the .500 mark for the first time this late in the season since 2017.
But it can also prove to be a huge measuring stick game. The Colts are 4-2, and while their record may look great, they are also a team with a ton of problems. Their offense is hit or miss, and Philip Rivers’ age is really starting to show. Star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has vanished and is barely even a factor in the 2020 offense. A defense that got off to a great start to the season has looked shaky in recent weeks as well.
Indianapolis is a fringe playoff team in the AFC. They should be able to get in, but need to avoid big slip ups to stave off teams like the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins from coming up behind them. They are, in essence, what Detroit wants to be.
Detroit is also a fringe playoff team, but they are a step behind their opponents this week with a worse record and a deeper conference.
This matchup will be an interesting one for Detroit, as well. Their largely-disappointing pass defense will get to face off against an offense with a lower end quarterback and a receiving corps that feels strapped for talent. A run defense that has stepped up in recent weeks will be tasked with stopping rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, who has impressed thus far in his short career.
Indianapolis’ defense may be hard to beat, though. The Lions are still a team that loves to run the ball, and rookie running back D’Andre Swift looks like he has the makings of being a star. The Colts defense has been iron tight against the run this season, preventing anyone from being able to beat them on the ground this season.
These teams seem to match up perfectly against one another. It is strength vs. strength and weakness vs. weakness. If Detroit plans on turning around the season and making the playoffs, then a win this week may be crucial. Not just for the impact on their record, but for their ability to beat other lower playoff level teams down the stretch as well.