The NFL scheduling gods have lain the path to the postseason for the Detroit Lions; all the Lions must do is maintain in order to capture the NFC North. Take a look at the second half of the Detroit season and start saving for those playoff tickets.
This week, Detroit faces its most direct threat to the NFC North crown in a home game against the Chicago Bears. Both teams sit at 5-3 but the Lions break the three-way tie with Chicago and Green Bay with a greater conference win percentage. Jay Cutler is still questionable for the Bears, but they beat the Packers with backup quarterback Josh McCown starting last weekend. If Detroit QB Matt Stafford is able to spread the ball around in the air against a 29th-ranked pass defense and target deep threat Calvin Johnson, it’ll be a good day for the Lions.
After that, the Detroit Lions take a trip to Pittsburgh to face the 2-6 Steelers and their 31st-ranked run defense. The Pittsburgh secondary allows only 210 yards per game, so running back Reggie Bush will need a big day for the Lions against a struggling but still dangerous Steelers team.
The keys to Detroit coming out on top against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week are all about precision: waking up on time and not getting lost on the way to the game; there’s not much else to a Detroit Lions win against Tampa Bay.
Green Bay comes to visit the Detroit Lions after the Bucs, the only other team they need to worry about conveniently tucked into their NFC North stamping grounds. The Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rogers against Chicago and have indicated they will stick with veteran backup Seneca Wallace, opting out of the Tim Tebow circus. The Lions defensive line will have to contain Ed Lacy on the ground and get pressure on Wallace, who lacks Rodgers’ mobility and hadn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2011 until this last week.
Beyond that, Detroit will be slumming with the likes of Philadelphia, Baltimore, the New York Giants and Minnesota. Sure, the “Any given Sunday blah blah blah” is still in effect and clearly the Lions will have to approach each opponent seriously, but come year’s end, a healthy Detroit Lions squad should be sitting pretty.