While the Green Bay Packers sit at home this week and scout the rest of the NFC, the Detroit Lions quietly posted one up on the defending Super Bowl Champions by defeating the Denver Broncos 45-10 on Sunday.
The Lions now sit at 6-2 after suffering double defeats in the previous two weeks, and although the Packers remain undefeated, Detroit are still one of the Packers biggest threats ahead of playoff time.
With the double meeting scheduled so late this season, the Lions are still in prime position to give the Packers a tough test come Thanksgiving. After today’s performance, let’s not forget there are still plenty of strong signs surrounding Detroit.
- Defense — The Lions defense sucked the life out of the Broncos on Sunday, and Tim Tebow was bullied all game long. The Broncos went with just two third downs the entire game, and Tebow was responsible for gifting the Lions two defensive touchdowns during the win. The first occurred on a fumble return, while the other was much uglier – a 99-yard interception return by cornerback Chris Houston.
- All Those Sacks Can’t Be Good – Aaron Rodgers has had a slight problem with sacks in recent weeks, mainly due to injuries on the offensive line and a few slip ups from Marshall Newhouse. The news only gets worse too, because Tebow was sacked seven times by the Lions defense on Sunday, and the pressure clearly rattled him. I’ve been banging on about protecting Rodgers’ blindside for the past month – and not much has changed. The Lions could make the Packers pay if nothing changes soon, and after Cliff Avril had career day with two sacks and two forced fumbles, things could get scary.
- Calvin Johnson Down the Sideline – Broncos fans were ‘Tebowing’ during most of the game (that’s right, they have turned their quarterbacks last name into a verb), but none of that seemed to matter to the Lions. Instead, wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught a backfoot pass from Matt Stafford, and danced the sideline for the score.
- Matthew Stafford Stepping Up – There were two big plays that made me realize how far Matt Stafford has come in the span of 12 months. One was on 2nd and 6, a play that saw Stafford step up into the pocket and hit Titus Young over the Broncos blown coverage. The other was on third and goal on a play action pass to tight end Tony Sheffler. Both were great, and both are scary considering the Packers secondary struggles of late.
- Finger on the Pulse – The Packers successfully handed it to the Broncos when they met in Week 4, but the Lions piled on 45 unanswered points up until the fourth quarter in Denver. The drought ended with an Eric Decker catch, but when the Lions and Packers meet, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that whoever plays the better four quarters, should take the W.
- Frail But Not Broken – Stafford was originally a question to start the game, and his overall health still hung in the balance in the end. As it stands, Stafford looks to be fine – but once again the rest of the NFC learned that if you pressure the Lions quarterback, he will come off a bit shaky.