Lions QB Matthew Stafford is coming off a 347-yard passing game against the Packers
The Detroit Lions brushed off their disappointing 2015 season by winning nine games in 2016. Three-straight losses to finish the year was the difference in Detroit having to play its first round playoff game on the road rather than at Ford Field and to make things worse, they face a Seattle Seahawks team that has won nine-straight playoff home games.
DETROIT AT SEATTLE
For perennial playoff teams like the New England Patriots, games that took place in Week 17 can often be thrown on the scrap heap because they were meaningless. A chance to rest starters. Detroit had everything to play for in their home finale but came up short against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. QB Matthew Stafford continues to recovery from a finger injury on his throwing hand and insists that it’s not a major issue, and the veteran threw for 347 yards and two TDs last week but Green Bay won 31-24.
For what it’s worth, Green Bay is shredding everything in its path the past month but Detroit also gave up 42 points in Dallas the previous week. Their defense ranks 32nd overall and the front seven is 25th. To think this Lions team is going to suddenly throw on the brakes in Seattle is unrealistic.
O-Co Jim Bob Cooter and Stafford are well aware of this situation and the good news is that their offense has proven itself capable of scoring around 20 points most weeks, keeping the team within striking distance for the fourth quarter. In 2016, the Lions offense ranks second only to Atlanta in terms of drive rate efficiency, scoring on 47.5-percent of their possessions (TD or FG). Five of the top seven teams in this category made the playoffs.
DRIVE RATE EFFICIENCY FOR 2016
1. Falcons 59.1
2. Lions 47.5
3. Cowboys 45.8
4. Saints 45.4
5. Packers 45.3
6. Washington 45.0
7. Patriots 41.7
Stafford is not the greatest quarterback outdoors, he doesn’t have the best career numbers on the road and against winning teams, Stafford has been outscored 27.8 to 19.5. He also hasn’t always had the benefit of four legitimate targets plus a power running back that’s getting things done behind an O-Line that has shown steady improvements throughout the season. They are not elite by any standard and will be much better off if RT Reilly Reiff can go, but they should give Stafford enough time to make plays in what are sure to be deafening conditions.
NFL WILD CARD PICKS
Seattle’s 26-15 win over Philly in Week 11 ended a streak of six-straight home overs against teams that came into the Clink looking for revenge. Carson Wentz was in over his head in that game but Stafford has a few more years under his belt and should be able to handle the pressure a little better. Seattle is 8-2 O/U at home its past 10 against teams seeking revenge including two playoff games that ended with 48 and 50 total points. Those wins over Carolina and Green Bay featured plenty of fourth quarter fireworks and given Detroit’s tendencies, this game could easily follow suit. Seattle has outscored teams 28-18 during their nine-game playoff home win streak and as long as Detroit can get to 17, this game has a great chance to finish on the right side of this low number.