NFC North Championship Game In Detroit, Who Walked Out Champions?
Green Bay and Detroit battled for the NFC North championship tonight. The winner will take on the Giants at their home stadium, while the loser will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Detroit hasn’t won a division title since 1993. The city will have to wait at least another year. Aaron Rodgers was too much again for Detroit and the Lions blew a three game lead in the NFC North
Matt Stafford looked better this week against the Packers. He ended up going 26/41 for 347 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He did miss an easy touchdown to Golden Tate that would have been a huge start for the team, but he ended up finding Tate later late in the second quarter. Stafford still had some miscommunication and overthrew some receivers or made some poor throws. Can’t do that in the playoffs.
Zach Zenner is the main back now with Theo Riddick on IR and he has been impressing the last two weeks. Zenner had 20 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. After getting benched in the second half against Dallas for no real reason. Luckily, he didn’t get replaced in this game but his playtime went down big time. He went from 16 carries in the first half, to four in the second half. We can’t abandon the run when it works. Zenner seems like he can be the man until Abdullah returns. Zenner also did damage in the air, catching four balls for 41 yards
Golden Tate was the main man tonight. He had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Jones had five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Anquan Boldin had four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Eric Ebron had six catches for 61 yards as well.
The offensive line was without their starting center and right tackle with Riley Reiff. Corey Robinson replaced him and did well. The line was impressive today with what they had. They created good holes for Zenner and gave Stafford some time in the pocket. If they can do that with Reiff and Swanson back, they can run an actual offense.
Getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers was hard for Detroit. A’Shawn Robinson was the leading tackler on the defensive line with four tackles, one for loss. Ziggy Ansah had three tackles,while Tyrunn Walker had two. This line couldn’t get to Rodgers and he would avoid any pressure that would happen. Detroit needs some help here as the line can’t do anything.
The linebackers had an average game. They couldn’t help pressure Rodgers much with the defensive line, and they allowed a fullback to run all over them. Tahir Whitehead had seven tackles. DeAndre Levy had three tackles, but struggled in coverage. Josh Bynes was quiet, only getting two tackles and a pass deflection on the day.
The secondary was hurting as well. Darius Slay returned and his presence was known, getting a team leading eight tackles and holding Jordy Nelson to just six catches for 66 yards. Glover Quin had seven tackles and a pass deflection as well. Tavon Wilson had seven tackles and the only sack on the game. Don Carey was the weak link, getting three tackles but he was exposed in coverage all game long and struggled greatly.
Special Teams was still having some hiccups. Matt Prater missed his only field goal attempt from 39 yards out. Andre Roberts had only three returns for 72 yards. But Sam Martin did well, punting four times for 200 yards, two landing inside the 20.
Week 17: What it Means
Detroit will play Seattle next week on Saturday night. Detroit will have to fight the weather and the tough crowd, known as the 12th man. Last time Detroit played in Seattle, they were cheated out of a win with a batted ball out of bounds. Detroit should hope the same thing doesn’t happen to them this time as the stakes are higher than ever.
After starting out 1-3, Detroit finished the season 9-7. While it wasn’t the exact way the team and fans wanted it to end, that is a good turnaround for the team. I remember at week five the fans were expecting the worst, and it turned around after that. Sadly, they ended the year on a three game losing streak going into the playoffs. It will be a tough road to Houston if Detroit wants to win it all.
Week 17: What to Think About
Jim Caldwell could be fired or stay. It is hard to figure out what Bob Quinn will do, but with many other teams looking for new coaches, Caldwell staying could be the best option. There aren’t any big head coaches in free agency unless another playoff team fires their coach. For now though, we will have to see how the playoffs play out.
Injuries are a big factor going into next week. Detroit NEEDS Riley Reiff and Travis Swanson to return to help the running game and pass protection. Luckily Slay, Ansah and Levy are playing, getting those two big boys back would be very helpful for Detroit.