Guess who's coming to Philadelphia this weekend leading the NFC North with a 7-5 record and hoping to blow the doors off the Eagles' current 4-game win streak? Yes, it's the Detroit Lions... and they don't need much more motivation than to know if Chicago loses this weekend and the Lions win, the Detroit magic number to clinch a division title will be "one"...
By now, you've seen the numbers. The Detroit Lions are in a historically dominant trend defending the run. The team is the first since 1933 to hold opponents under 63 yards and without a touchdown for six consecutive contests.
The Lions haven't allowed an opposing running back to gain more than 37 yards in the past seven games and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in the past eight.
The latest victim was Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, who had some success against the Lions earlier this season.
In the Packers' 22-9 home win over the Lions in Week 5, the rookie ran for 99 yards on 23 carries, but in the rematch on Thanksgiving, he was repeatedly stuffed at the line of scrimmage, finishing with a paltry 16 yards on 10 carries. Detroit ended up winning that game, 40 -10.
The Lions have their mojo rising on run defense.
To add some perspective, a Detroit defender first hit Lacy at or before the line of scrimmage on nine of his 10 carries. The running back actually had more yards after contact, 21, than he did from scrimmage.
So what did the Lions do that made life so difficult for Lacy and Packers?
First, it started with a commitment of resources. The Lions put seven or more defenders in the box pre-snap, or blitzed with a seventh defender, on eight of the 10 plays.
On the snap below, the Lions put eight in the box, including six along the line of scrimmage. The Packers only had seven blockers, including fullback John Kuhn. That left middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch to shoot through unblocked to stop Lacy for a one-yard gain on a run to the right.
As mentioned, the Lions also utilized run blitzes. Three times, Detroit sent the nickelback, allowing defensive end Willie Young to slide inside and clog the middle.
Young stopped Lacy for a one-yard gain on one of the plays and cornerbacks Don Carey and Bill Bentley made initial hits behind the line of scrimmage on the other two.
On a couple of the runs, a Lions defender simply made a good read and individual play. Below, the Packers left tackle doubled defensive tackle Nick Fairley on the snap, leaving right defensive end Devin Taylor unblocked.
Coming on a wide edge rush, Taylor quickly recognized the handoff and bent inside, taking a horizontal path behind the Packers offensive line and hitting Lacy behind the line of scrimmage
The final snap I want to highlight was a first-and-10 play early in fourth quarter. The Lions were in a nickel defense, showing press coverage on the three outside receivers.
Before the snap, the two linebackers in the formation crept up to the line of scrimmage. Recognizing the potential blitz, Green Bay committed a blocker each to DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch.
This left Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley singled up. Fairley overpowered T.J. Lang on the play, driving the Packers center four yards deep into the backfield and wrapping up Lacy for a three-yard loss.
I guess my point is, if the Chippah thinks he's gonna run on these guys, he's got another thing coming.
So I'm hoping Nick Foles and his receivers will have an alternative questionnaire for the Lions' defense to answer.
The combined stat sheets for both teams are somewhat misleading, since it's been two mini-seasons for both teams so far, as in "Act 1"... and "Act 2---Getting Your Act Together"--- but here are the official NFL stats comparisons:
|Avg Points Allowed||23.9||23.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET||
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET||
We'll get into into individual performance matchups later this week. For now, we've got to give props to the final regular season standings of the 2013 BRISUKSEGG FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE...
Hard to believe, Harry, but they're into the Playoffs already...
It works like this: after 12 regular season games in a 12-team league, you get 4 teams eligible for the Playoffs. Now you have the 4 Playoff Survivors fighting it out for the Championship Round. They have completed the Semi-Final Round:
The Great White Mooks (J-HOP) pulverized the Severed Stones (HARRY), 179 - 131, behind a whopping 62 points provided by the Dolphins D/ST.
And the hell-bent-on-leather Filled With Rage (JERKY) strapped the Bad Jews Bears (BENNY), 202 - 73...Such a beating has never been witnessed in fancy football before this... Jerky racked up 56 points off his Panthers D/ST alone...
That sets up the Finals between the Great White Mooks and Filled With Rage...
Consolation ladder games continued also, with Prime Beef (T-Boner) outlasting the Dirty Stinkin' Bums (ATV), 114-98...The Barking Spiders biting the scrapple out of the Amish Mafia, 147 - 85... Bri's Gigantic Face saving face with a nasty win over the Bri Slappers, 114- 73...and the Greatest PPW sending Palm Feathers off to the Gulf sunset with a 153- 127 drubbing...
What a season it's been.... Looking forward to how Jerky (who's made no secret of his disdain for the commisioner's rules) and J-Hop (who has boasted all season long he "is the greatest") will adjust their rosters accordingly for the Big Championship Game.
It is only fitting and just to pay tribute to ATV, who was last year's 2012 Champion with an overall 9-5 record. ATV beat HUD in the semi-final round and then beat the Great JB-Sage-Lion in the finals.