Matt Shepard: As close to a must-win as you can get

By: Matt Shepard
Ford Lions Report Live Reporter

I have never been a big believer in "must win" tags unless it eliminates a team from some kind of race.  A Lions loss Sunday at home against Seattle doesn't do that, but it is as close to a must-win regular season game as you can get. 

One could argue the Lions have played well enough in every game to be unbeaten and others could make a case they had no business beating the Rams or the Eagles. 

Sunday expects to be a low scoring affair.  The Seahawks are 4-3 because of their defense.  It's sure not because of their offense that ranks 30th in total offense; 31st in passing and 31st in scoring. 

Russell Wilson gets a lot of publicity because he's one of five rookies to start opening day and the only one who was a third round pick and granted, he's outplayed (meaning he had a better QBR) guys like Romo, Rodgers, Newton, and Brady in the Seahawks victories, but he's not the reason this team is above five hundred. 

Seattle's defense is.

It boasts three Pro Bowlers and has 10 of 11 starters returning from a unit that ranked in the top 10 a year ago.  Lions offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan told me Thursday that he doesn't think there is a bigger defense in the league.  It is big, long, and fast. 

Defensive End Chris Clemons is the best pass rusher you've never heard of.  He leads the team with 7 sacks (third in the NFL behind JJ Watt and Clay Matthews) and has 29 since coming over in a trade from Philly in 2010.  Those 29 sacks are fifth during that time, better than Cameron Wake, Clay Matthews, Terrell Suggs and Jason Pierre-Paul. 

Defensive Tackle Brandon Mebane ranked first last year in the NFC among DT's with 56 tackles and ranks first at the position in the conference over the last two years.

They have two of the larger corners in the league in Brandon Browner 6-4; 221 and Richard Sherman 6-3; 195, both of whom are physical and possess an arrogance that should lead to a lot of man-to-man coverage. 

And, as Linehan told me this week, they have a safety who is the size of a linebacker, Kam Chancellor at 6-3; 232.  The thing is each member of their secondary runs well, so they will test the Lions receivers.  I expect Calvin Johnson to have a big day. 

Last week in Chicago he may have played his worst game as a pro and was manhandled by Charles Tillman.  That won't happen again. 

A quick start is the remedy for the Lions, something they have not been able to do all season (five straight without a TD in the first half).  It changes this weekend-maybe it's hopeful thinking-but if not now when?

Print this article Back to Top

Comments