This time, it was an entire game's worth of struggles. Offensive line is finally proving to be the weak spot it seemed to be coming into the season, and with special teams still performing poorly, there's just too much for the defense to handle even when it's at the top of its game.
Penalties are becoming an issue again. Suh is obviously branded as a dirty player, and unfortunately he seems unaware that perception is at least as important as reality, and the longer this lasts, the less likely it is that there is a difference. (Rodney Harrison, in talking about this, still didn't think he himself was a dirty player. Case in point.)
Back-to-back losses in games where they were favored, substantially in the latter, should have a big impact on projections. Let's see:
Week 8: at Denver, favorite
Week 9: bye
Week 10: at Chicago, underdog (moved down)
Week 11: Carolina, heavy favorite (moved down)
Week 12: Green Bay, underdog (moved down)
Week 13: at New Orleans, underdog (moved down)
Week 14: Minnesota, heavy favorite (moved down)
Week 15: at Oakland, favorite (moved up)
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
So yeah, there was some movement. The loss of Jason Campbell pushed the Raiders game to favorite status (63%), but that was about it. This is probably a more accurate reflection of the Lions' strength. Estimated wins are right at 10, which matches the game-by-game projections.
The Playoff Odds report is below:
Mean wins: 9.7, down 0.5
Playoffs: 67.6%, down 13.0 points
Division title: 9.9%, down 11.9 points
Top seed: 2.7%, down 4.5 points
NFC title: 4.5%, down 3.2 points
Super Bowl win: 1.9%, down 1.4 points
15-1 record: off the board
Being two losses back means the division is pretty much gone; yes, the Packers are on the schedule twice, but in neither game is Detroit favored, and does this look like a team that can beat Green Bay? No. The one benefit so far is that the Lions' schedule is turning out to be more difficult than it seemed at first, so that's making the 5-2 record better than it might otherwise be. Having a two-in-three shot at a playoff spot is still pretty good.
So, after falling in consecutive week to teams that weren't playing as well as the Lions but managed to turn it around, Detroit has a game that they simply must win. If you can't beat bad teams, you aren't a playoff team. Fortunately, the Broncos have benched their starting QB and are using a running back in his place. Even if Stafford is not 100%, the Lions should completely shut down TEBOWTEBOWTEBOW and the Denver offense. Lions, 19-8.
Last week: predicted 27-17, actual 16-23
Current mood: disappointed