Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lions season outlook, week 12

Back to the early-season script: first-half mistakes, second-half domination. What's troubling is that this was one of the worst defenses in football, and Detroit gave them opportunities over and over again. (I didn't see the game, so I don't know how much was Carolina playing well defensively and how much was Detroit making silly mistakes.)

Massey projections:
Week 12: Green Bay, underdog
Week 13: at New Orleans, slight underdog (moved up)
Week 14: Minnesota, overwhelming favorite (moved up)
Week 15: at Oakland, 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.

No significant changes, and that will probably be the case the rest of the way. Weeks 12 and 13 move to the other side of the line (41% and 87%, both a tick or two away from reverting.) Estimated wins are 10.3, down just a touch. Again, Weeks 14-16 will be the keys; a win over New Orleans would be huge, and of course an upset of Green Bay on Thanksgiving, well ...

The Playoff Odds report is below:
Mean wins: 10.3, up 0.5
Playoffs: 67.0%, up 4.7 points
Division title: 5.1%, up 1.4 points
Top seed: 0.8%, up 0.2 points
NFC title: 3.7%, up 0.9 points
Super Bowl win: 1.6%, up 0.6 points

The Lions benefit somewhat from the Giants' loss to Philadelphia. New York's remaining schedule will likely drop them out of playoff contention, which is better than having Dallas stick around in the wild-card race (even though Detroit has the head-to-head win, that only applies if they finish with the same record.

The injury to Cutler may be significant, though. Let's take a look at the Playoff Odds with an estimate of the loss of Cutler (as well as Schaub and Cassel in the AFC):

Mean wins: 10.3, same
Playoffs: 69.8%, 2.8 points higher
Division title: 4.9%, 0.2 points lower
Top seed: 0.8%, same
NFC title: 3.6%, 0.1 points lower
Super Bowl win: 1.7%, 0.1 points higher

The higher playoff chances are from Chicago's chances dropping a bit; the smaller shot at the division is because Chicago still has a game left against Green Bay, and that hypothetical scenario requires the Packers to lose at least one more game (assuming Detroit sweeps them; obviously at least a split would be required). The Super Bowl chances are probably due to the prospect of facing Houston without Schaub.

So I got the offensive part right, but didn't count on the defense being put in untenable positions time and again against a solid offense. This time, it'll be much the same, except the defense will be better and the offense will be much better. It's a strange situation. On the one hand, no one expects the Lions to win. On the other hand, to be the best, eventually you have to beat the best. Detroit obviously isn't the best team in the league this season and probably isn't close, but a win Thursday would certainly be a big step back toward respectability. I just don't see it happening if Rodgers stays healthy. Packers, 34-29.

Last week: predicted 37-17, actual 49-35

Current mood: expecting the worst

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