By nearly every single measure, the first half of the Detroit Lions’ 2023 season was a success. Not only do they have a 6-2 record and a 1.5-game lead on the NFC North, but they also boast a top-10 offense and defense by DVOA metrics, hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and have the fourth-best Super Bowl odds.
But what is ahead for the Lions? Can they close out the North and win their first divisional title in 30 years? What seed in the NFC playoff picture will they hold? Which Lions player is due for a breakout in the second half of the season? And what could hold the Lions back from a truly spectacular season?
Those are just some of the questions we answer on this week’s PODcast.
Here’s a snippet of those conversations.
On what could hold the Lions back:
Ryan: “When it comes to Aaron Glenn’s approach against mobile quarterbacks, I’m just not that confident at all. There’s a lot of room for concern, there’s a lot of room to be fearful of that. And it’s not just the guy who can run like Lamar (Jackson). It’s the guys who can extend plays. Geno Smith can extend a play. Coming up, Justin Herbert can extend plays, and Justin Fields and there’s Josh Dobbs. We’ll get to some of the guys they’re playing down the stretch, but I think those are all good litmus tests to see what Aaron Glenn can do in terms of adjustments.”
Chris: “One of the things the Lions really haven’t had to do in any game they won is come from behind and play from an uncomfortable hole. It’s not something I know if the Lions can even do yet, because as well as Jared Goff plays, he still makes some mistakes here and there, and I’m just curious what Jared Goff can be if put into that kind of a situation, because he hasn’t really been put into that situation in a long time, at least in a place where the Lions would then go on to win that game. I just don’t know what this offense can do yet if [the game situation] says, ‘Hey, you’ve got five minutes left in the game, you need to score at least twice.’”
On why the Lions could be even better in the back half:
Jeremy: “When have they played their best football over the past two years? The second half of the season, down the stretch. They gather information about themselves, they gather information about their opponents and they play better football. Now granted, they’ve had really, really young teams in the past, and so some of that is just their young players getting better. But I think we’ve also seen them make in-season adjustments on the offensive side in Year 1, defensive side in Year 2, and both of those sides of the ball got significantly better. So I think you have to have a little bit of confidence that the Lions may have not played their best football yet, and that should be a scary thought for a lot of other NFL teams.”
On if the Vikings could be a true threat to the Lions in the NFC North:
Jeremy: “This is not just me saying, ‘Wow, Josh Dobbs looks amazing. They’re going to be so good.’ This is not that. The Vikings have been playing good football all year, and remember at the beginning of the year, all that good luck they had in one-score games last year turned into bad luck. Their defense looks way better than it did last year under Brian Flores. The talent’s still not there, but Brian Flores is creating chicken feed out of you know what. And listen they have enough offensive weapons where if you have a mediocre quarterback who can just manage a football game, they’re going to make some noise.”
Ryan: “They’re not winning 10 games. The dropoff from Kirk Cousins to Josh Dobbs is astounding [...] They aren’t going to get to play the Falcons every week.”
Other topics this week:
- (31:00) Has Jared Goff earned a contract extension?
- (38:30) Biggest surprise from the first half of the season
- (46:40) Biggest disappointment thus far
- (51:50) Best Lions coach thus far
- (1:16:30) Is the No. 1 seed up for grabs or do the Eagles have it on lock?