OK, so far so good for the Detroit Lions.
They’re 6-2 and atop the NFC North at the halfway point despite several key injuries.
Unlike seasons past, they are finding ways to win.
In the last two games they have held the lead for exactly 98 seconds and yet they have won both.
The defense is still ranked No. 1 in the NFL allowing just 290.4 yards per game — second against the run, fifth against the pass. This despite the fact they lost Stephen Tulloch and Bill Bentley for the season.
The offense has been iffy, but with mostly good reason. Calvin Johnson has missed three games, Reggie Bush has been out for two. Right tackle has been an issue with LaAdrian Waddle missing half the games and Corey Hilliard gone for the season.
None of the top three tight ends played on Sunday.
Golden Tate has played exceptionally well.
Matthew Stafford has been up and down, but he has somehow gotten the job done. He’s still adjusting to the new offense, but needs to be more precise with his passes. Sunday was the first game where he was not sacked. He was sacked 24 times in the first seven games which is one more time than in 16 games in 2013.
The loss to the Bills was not on the offense or defense — remember the 17-14 loss where Alex Henery missed three field goals?
Special teams has been mostly solid. Matt Prater seems to be the answer at kicker. He’s four of six on field goals in four games.
So now what?
The Lions have a bye this week to rest up. Most should be healthy for the Nov. 9 game against the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field. Also rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be eligible to play for the first time on that Sunday.
Of their next seven opponents (they play the Bears twice), four have winning records.
After the Dolphins at home, they travel to Arizona against the Cards (6-1) on Nov. 16 and to New England against the Patriots (6-2) on Nov. 23. That should be the toughest two-game stretch in the second half of the season.
The Lions play the Bears (3-5) on Thanksgiving and the Tampa Bay Bucs (1-6) on Dec. 7 at Ford Field. On the Dec. 14 they play the Vikings (3-5) who they beat in Minnesota two weeks ago.
Then they wrap up the regular season at the Bears on Dec. 21 and at Green Bay on Dec. 28. (That game sets up to be flexed to the Sunday night game).
They should beat the Dolphins, Bears (at Ford Field), Bucs and Vikings. No excuses acceptable on any of those.
That would bring them to 10 wins.
The way things have gone I wouldn’t count them out against any team at this point especially with a healthy offense.
So who had the Lions finishing 10-6? Not me. I had 9-7.
These are the Lions so who knows, but there is a remarkable difference in the team attitude. It stems from Jim Caldwell and his staff.
It should be a good second half and the Dec. 28 game should not be the final game of the season.
The playoffs start Jan 3. Yes, I wrote the ‘P’ word.