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By: Walker Clement
Carolina hosts the Lions for the second time since 2020
The last time the Panthers hosted the Lions, in November of 2020, they pitched their only shut out of the past three seasons. Both teams are wildly different now as compared to their 2020 counterparts. The Lions have a coach with a history of his own success and the Panthers, well, you’ve been here all season.
To get an idea of just who these Lions are, I spoke with Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit. Read on to learn about why this is a playoff game for the Lions, too, and just what to make of Jared Goff’s up and down season.
This was supposed to be a competitive meeting between two teams that started rough but got on a hot streak in the same November/December period. That changed when the Panthers ran into the feared-league-wide buzz saw known as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Obviously the Lions are glad they aren’t playing the Steelers this weekend, but how do they (and their fans) see the Panthers as an opponent? Is Carolina an afterthought? A speed bump? Perhaps a respected, venerable opponent in the way one respects and venerates their elders who have come full circle and believe in the tooth fairy again?
There’s some concern about the Panthers. They just feel so unknown. Everyone thought this team was dead after they fired Matt Rhule. But they keep coming back and now they’re still in the hunt to win the division. You fear what you don’t know. There’s a feeling that the Lions should win this game, but no Lions fan is willing to fully engulf themselves in that feeling for fear that the Panthers would have a big game and kill the Lions hopes and dreams. I think fans are looking at every opponent that way these days though.
Sorry, that last question got away from me a little bit. Let’s make this simple. Jared Goff, good or bad?
I’m going to go with good. Goff is playing some of the best football of his career right now. He’s been on a really good run in the last seven games. He’s thrown for 1,700 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception in that time. That one interception was in the first game of that seven game stretch too. He’s got a fully healthy offense surrounding him too. That’s been the big difference for him from the early part of the season. Is Jared Goff the best? No way. Is he playing like a top 10 QB right now? Maybe. At least top 15.
How are the Lions at defending the run? I ask because it is the only thing the Panthers were able to do consistently until last week.
It’s the strength of the Lions defense. They’ve been able to hold running backs down all season. It’s the secondary that causes Detroit some issues. They’re not horrible, but they can be beat on chunk plays multiple times a game. IOf the Panthers hope to get the run game going, they’re going to have to keep the Lions defense honest with Sam Darnolds arm too.
The Lions and Panthers are both spitting distance from the playoffs. The Panthers cannot lose this game and still control their destiny, what are the stakes for the Lions this Saturday?
The stakes are similar. The Lions can afford one loss at best and still make it into the playoffs. They can’t afford to have that loss come in Carolina when they have to go to frigid Lambeau at the end of the season. Even if Green Bay hasn’t been very good this season. This is the biggest game of the year for the Lions. That’s the mentality they’re taking into every game lately. They need to win if they want to make it in. They want to run the table and completely control their destiny. They can’t do that if they lose a game.
The Panthers are holding steady as three point home underdogs on Christmas Eve, per our friends at Draftkings Sportsbook, how has Detroit performed this year against the spread and what do you expect from them this week?
The Lions are 9-4 against the spread this season. So they’re performing well there. Vegas loves them. I expect this game to be close. The Lions offense has been high powered, but they have yet to show that they can be high powered on the road. It could be a low scoring affair, but I think the Lions pull out the win in the end.
Originally posted on Cat Scratch Reader – All Posts