Turnovers and lack red zone efficiency have killed Lions this season

By: Matt Shepard
Ford Lions Report Live Reporter

If you want to know the biggest difference between the Lions successful 2011 playoff season and this 2012 under-achieving campaign (this team is the biggest disappointment in the NFL), look no further than the turnover margin and red zone efficiency. 

Detroit was a plus 11 last season and forced 33 turnovers on the year. This year, the Lions are a minus 12, turning it over 29 times, while boasting just 17 takeaways. 

The red zone is defined by moving the ball within the opponents' 20-yard line.  The Lions did that 58-times during last year that saw the team establish a franchise record for points, touchdowns and yards. They scored 54 times that included 37 touchdowns.

So far this season, the Lions have reached the red zone 53 times and scored 44 times, but only 31 touchdowns. 

Considering Detroit has lost eight games by one score, those missed opportunities add up. 

Interestingly, the defense has done a much better job of limiting opponents in the red zone.  Last year the opposition ventured within Detroit's 20-yard line 54 times and scored 26 touchdowns. This year, they've threatened just 35 times and crossed the goal line 19 times.

Those are a lot of numbers to digest, but it comes down to capitalizing on your opportunities.  The Lions have had as many chances this year as last, but have too often times "settled" for a field goal or turned it over. 

Good teams can overcome a missed chance or an untimely cough up, but the Lions don't have that luxury and NO team in this league can play through these mistakes week after week and come out on top. 

You add these two major factors with the fact that this team is again one of the most penalized in the league and you have the remedy for disaster - or you have the 2012 Detroit Lions season.

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