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The Cheat Sheet: Can the Lions keep the win streak alive against the Colts?

Indianapolis Colts s vs. Detroit Lions game preview and prediction.

Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

In the first two seasons under Matt Patricia, the Lions have only put a multiple game win streak together once. In Week 2 and Week 3 of 2019.

If the Lions win Sunday against the Colts it’ll be the longest win streak the Lions have had since the 2017 season when they put a three-game win streak together in the middle of the season. That season the Lions went 9-7, missed the playoffs, and Jim Caldwell was let go from his head coaching position.

Unlike Caldwell, if Patricia can somehow right the ship and get the Lions into the playoff conversation, he might be able to save his job.

According to Football Outsiders, the Lions win last week notched them up 2.0 percent in their Playoff Odds – upping their total playoff odds to 23.3 percent.

If the Lions want to shot at the playoffs they need to start stringing wins together.

Let’s take a look at last years’ NFC playoff teams and their win streaks:

Not surprisingly, the teams that can put wins together week after week are the ones who make deep runs into the playoffs.

Now, with a softer schedule ahead, it’s time for the Lions do it.

NFL: SEP 27 Jets at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Opponent snapshot

The Colts feel like the AFC version of the Chicago Bears. An average team with an above average record.

They paid big money for Philip Rivers to come in and stabilize the offense this season. So far, he’s been either very hot or very cold.

On defense, they’ve been largely aided by the opponent throwing the ball directly to them. They lead the NFL in interceptions with 10. And it’s a good thing, because Rivers is averaging an interception per game right now.

At 4-2 the Colts are a bit of a mystery. They could just as easily be 2-4 if not for an easy schedule early on. The four teams the Colts have beaten (the Vikings, Jets, Bears and Bengals) are a combined 7-19 so far in 2020. If you take out the Bears, those opponents are 2-17.

So while you can’t fault them for winning against bad teams, they also haven’t been challenged much this season either.

NFL: SEP 27 Jets at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colts’ biggest threat

Defense*

I’m putting an asterisk on the Colts defense. Right now, based on the stats, they look like one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL.

  • 2nd in yards allowed per game (288)
  • 2nd in pass yards allowed per game (199.7)
  • 3rd in rush yards per game (88.3)
  • 4th in points allowed per game (19.2)

But here’s where the asterisk comes in: they’ve played some of worst quarterbacks in the NFL.

  • Gardner Minshew - 53.7 QBR (25th)
  • Kirk Cousins - 48.0 QBR (28th)
  • Sam Darnold - 41.1 QBR (30th)
  • Nick Foles - 50.8 QBR (27th)
  • Baker Mayfield - 76.6 QBR (9th)
  • Joe Burrow - 57.2 QBR (24th)

The Colts’ defense feels like it’s ready for a regression. They face Matthew Stafford, Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill, and Aaron Rodgers in the upcoming weeks.

NFL: SEP 27 Jets at Colts Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colts’ weak link

Philip Rivers

Rivers is playing in full “Jekyll and Hyde” mode this season. He’s still willing to take shots downfield, but that has lead to some absolutely awful interceptions as well.

The problem for Rivers, and the rest of the Colts, has been slow starts.

Even though the Lions haven’t played the Colts since 2016, they did just play Rivers last year when he was still a member of the Chargers. In that Week 2 game, the Lions held Rivers to 293 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 73.0.

Bottom line

The Colts and Lions both feel like middle-of-road teams who are looking to take the jump. The Lions need to start stringing games together and I think it continues this week.

Prediction

Lions 27 Colts 24