Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lions season outlook, week 7

Once again, first-half struggles followed by ... oh wait, there was no second-half dominance. The Lions defense played fairly well, but failed to contain Frank Gore on two long runs. One led to a touchdown and the other led to a field goal; those two plays were arguably the difference.

On the other hand, Detroit did keep San Francisco in check, and even with those plays, the Lions had two chances to win, thanks in part to conservative playcalling by the 49ers. Stafford was inaccurate on too many plays, and the Lions simply couldn't recover.

Massey projections:
Week 7: Atlanta, heavy favorite (moved down)
Week 8: at Denver, favorite (moved down)
Week 9: bye
Week 10: at Chicago, tossup (moved down)
Week 11: Carolina, overwhelming favorite
Week 12: Green Bay, slight underdog
Week 13: at New Orleans, slight underdog
Week 14: Minnesota, overwhelming favorite
Week 15: at Oakland, slight favorite
Week 16: San Diego, heavy favorite
Week 17: at Green Bay, heavy underdog

Tossups are 50%; slight favorites are up to 3-2 (60%), then favorites up to 3-1 (75%), then heavy favorites up to 5-1 (86%), then overwhelming favorites. Slight underdogs are down to 2-3 (40%), then underdogs down to 1-3 (25%), then heavy underdogs down to 1-5 (14%), then overwhelming underdogs.

As you might expect, the loss to San Francisco moved a few games down one category, most notably the post-bye game in Chicago. However, the New Orleans game didn't move back into underdog status, partly because the Saints lost as well. It's notable that the game in New Orleans is the hardest remaining home game for the Saints: the Giants game the week before (on Monday night) is 84%, Atlanta is 81%, and Tampa Bay's return visit is 82%. Detroit is 60%.

Detroit's estimated wins, according to Massey, are 11.25. Sorry I missed that last week.

The Playoff Odds report is below:
Mean wins: 10.2, down 0.6
Playoffs: 80.6%, down 9.3 points
Division title: 21.8%, down 9.7 points
Top seed: 7.2%, down 10.6 points
NFC title: 7.7%, down 4.2 points
Super Bowl win: 3.3%, down 2.2 points
15-1 record: 0.1%, down 0.7 points

Obviously there's a drop across the board, mostly due to the loss (and the subsequent rise in San Francisco's future), but also due to other results in the conference. Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Chicago all jumped at least 10 points in overall playoff chances, so that has to come from somewhere. Green Bay is disappearing into the distance, and another loss prior to Thanksgiving will virtually wrap up the division for the Packers.

This is a must-win game for the Lions (well, most of them are, in playoff terms, because you can't lose ground and you certainly can't lose to a fellow wild-card contender). One home loss is unavoidable now; two of them would be a problem. Atlanta is not impressive, and the Lions must demonstrate it. FO actually likes Atlanta better than Detroit, but I'm not buying it. Lions, 27-17.

Last week: predicted 27-24, actual 19-25

Current mood: concerned

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