The Detroit Lions had big expectations in 2012 after making the playoffs for the first time in over ten years last season. Another big playoff push was in the cards, anything else would be a big disappointment to the team and fans. Now in week 9 of 2012, the Lions are on the outside looking in at 3-4. It would take a small miracle for them to have a chance to eek in. They still have to play the Green Bay Packers twice and host the stingy Houston Texans on Thanksgiving. Head coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions will proclaim they still are very well alive, but time is closing in on the Lions. The Jacksonville Jaguars could only dream of being in a position the Lions are in, however. The Jaguars just want the season to simply end so they can prepare for next season. Injuries have marred the 1-6 squad all season long, and it hit a new level when star running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a serious foot injury. Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert had to sit out a week with a sore shoulder as well. Gabbert will be available for week 8, listed as probable.
Gabbert hasn’t had smooth sailing in the NFL thus far in his young career. After getting drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, Gabbert failed to impress in his rookie campaign. In his rookie season he finished with 2214 yards with 12 TDs and 11 INTs. Gabbert has minimized mistakes and played decent football, certainly improving from a season ago. He has passed for 1209 yards and 7 TDs with only 3 INTs. He actually put together a solid performance at Lambeau last week, throwing for 303 yards and a touchdown. It was a valiant effort by the Jags, falling 24-15, in a game that was close throughout. Perhaps of Jones-Drew suited up they could have pulled off a monumental upset, after all, backup Rashad Jennings coughed up a fumble and only ran for 59 yards. While Gabbert looked fine with Jones-Drew, I think any quarterback is at a disadvantage without a running back of Jones-Drew’s talent in the backfield. The offense as an entire group ranks dead last in the NFL, only averaging 250 yards a game and 14.7 points. There are simply no playmakers on this roster.
There isn’t much to say about the Detroit Lions defense, however. After a dominating rookie season by defensive Ndamukong Suh, he tailed off in his sophomore and year and is continuing to be getting pushed around. The defensive line as a whole has regressed, though. They are in the top-half of defensive lines without a doubt, but this was a group that was mauling offensive lines up front. Matters don’t get any better the further back you move in the defense from the front, or so it seems. On paper they look like a defense in shambles, mainly the secondary, but they are still ranked 9th in the NFL in pass defense, only allowing 214 yards per game. That may come as a surprise to many people considering the amount of players they have gone through in the secondary. As a whole, the Lions are 10th in the NFL in total team defense.
The defense has been some what of a pleasant surprise, the offense has yet to hit its stride, however. It is night and day between 2012 and 2011. In 2011 Matthew Stafford passed for a spectacular 5038 yards with 41 TDs and only 16 INTs. This year Stafford has been sailing balls and overthrowing receivers with great regularity. He currently has 2108 yards with 8 TDs and & INTs. His favorite target, Calvin Johnson, also lit up the box score on a regular basis, finishing with 1681 yards and 16 TDs. Call it the Madden curse or whatever you want, but Johnson only has 681 yards so far with only 1 touchdown. It appears as if an injury has been nagging him all season, dropping easy balls that could have gone for big plays. Johnson is listed as questionable for week 9, but I would be shocked if he doesn’t give it a shot to go. Even after all these troubles, the offense is still 2nd in the NFL with 407 yards per game.
Lions vs. Jaguars Spread and Betting Odds:
Detroit Lions -5 (-115)
@Jacksonville Jaguars +5 (-105)
Over 44 (-110)
Under 44 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Lions vs. Jaguars Pick:
I think with the news of Calvin Johnson’s injury we are getting a short line here. Also, after a big come from behind victory against the Seahawks, the books are expecting a letdown in this spot. I on the other hand just don’t see that happening. The Jaguars possess without a doubt the worst offense in the NFL. The Oregon Ducks could probably play a full season in the NFL and score more points than the Jaguars. Okay, a little bit of an exaggeration, but there is no denying this is one bad offense. While the books are expecting a Lions letdown, I see a Jaguars letdown after pushing the Packers to the max a week ago at Lambeau.
Home is supposed to be a place where a team feels comfortable and picks up the majority of their victories. It has had an opposite effect on the Jaguars, 0-3 at home and losing those games by an average of more than 20 points. An unheard of figure, but the Jaguars have managed to pull it off. If it is going to happen anywhere, it would happen in Jacksonville, a team with minimal fan support. The injury to Calvin Johnson would have played a big role in this game if it was against a good team. The Lions should get good performances out of Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles. I like the Lions to keep their playoff hopes alive and pick up a victory against the inferior Jaguars.
PICK = Lions -5