By: Herman Moore
Ford Lions Report Live Analyst
The next week will tell us a lot about the 2012 Detroit Lions.
Were we too excited about a 10-6 record and playoff appearance in 2011?
Did we expect too much from the Lions this year?
The Lions have fallen well short of the mark many of us felt like they were capable of hitting, and their 4-5 record is as baffling as it is disappointing.
However, with the Green Bay Packers (6-3) and the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (8-1) coming to town Sunday and Thanksgiving, respectively, Detroit has a lot to prove to its fans – it has to give them something to grab onto and believe in for the rest of the season.
Simply put, as the scenario has been the past few weeks, the Lions need to win, and badly.
The Lions have traditionally struggled on Turkey Day. Detroit has played the most Thanksgiving games of any franchise, but boast a mediocre 33-37-2 record.
And then come the Packers.
We know what the Lions are in for when quarterback Aaron Rodgers enters the fold.
There are two main topics I wanted to address this week because they demonstrate just how much of a head scratcher we've witnessed in 2012.
Stafford heads a potent Lions offense, but results have been scarce.
The Lions lead the NFL with 307.3 passing yards per game, and they're second in the league with 406.1 yards.
Impressive numbers, sure, but the Lions have the 15th-ranked total offense, and that's disappointing, especially after glancing over a roster than features playmakers in quarterback Matthew Stafford, receivers Calvin Johnson and Titus Young, and running back Mikel Leshoure.
There are game changers on this roster. Don't forget it.
Making matters worse, Stafford's 2,722 passing yards are the fourth-most in the NFL, and Johnson tops the league with 974 receiving yards. The pair that hooked up 96 times for a league-leading 1,681 yards and 18 touchdowns has connected for just two scores through nine games this season.
At this point in 2011, the duo had connected for 10 touchdowns.
Stafford and Johnson's numbers – with the exception of touchdowns – have been comparable to the mammoth stats each put up a year ago.
While it's been a far cry from last year's 41-touchdown season for Stafford, he continues to show why he's considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
But it's all been a tease this fall.
Splitting would be satisfactory, and necessary.
The Lions have to win one of their pair of upcoming games in order to have the slightest wind remaining in their sails to push them the rest of the way.
After the Texans, the Lions have five games remaining on their schedule, which includes meetings with the Packers, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, who have a combined record of 27-9.
Complete efforts have been the theme for the Falcons and Bears, while the Packers are always a team to fear.
Led by rookie signal-caller Andrew Luck, the Colts appear to be rising in the post-Peyton Era.
Detroit's quartet of stout opponents are among the toughest any team will face the remainder of the year.
If the Lions can split with the Texans and Packers, they could make a charge toward a Wild Card-berth.
Herman Moore joins Tom Leyden and Rob Rubick on the Ford Lions Report Live every Sunday at 11am throughout the season. You can follow Herman on Twitter @HMAN84