NFL 2018 Season - PS4


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First Impression
by Dennis Ranahan

Do you remember when the Detroit Lions lost to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football to open their 2018 National Football League season?

That night, the Lions got sliced, diced and mutilated by the Jets at Ford Field, 48-17, and the critics were quick to the draw to cast doubt on first-year head coach Matt Patricia. It didn’t get much better in second week action when the Lions lost to the San Francisco 49ers on the road.

Stories about how Bill Belichick former staff members did not fare as well as head coaches as they did as assistants with the New England Patriots abounded. And how high priced quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has never directed the Lions to postseason win, may be the most overpaid player in the game.

This week, Detroit hosts the Seattle Seahawks, and this morning the line dropped from the home standing Lions favored by three points to Detroit by 2½ points.

Smart money?

I think not.

More likely, first impressions left a more lasting impression than everything that has happened since. Since that loss in San Francisco, a game in which the Lions beat the point spread despite picking up their second straight-up loss, Detroit has won three of four games and come into action on Sunday having won five straight point spread decisions.

The Lions may have opened this season a bit ragged, but former New England Defensive Coordinator Patricia now has his Lions in the thick of the highly competitive NFC North Division race, just one game back of the division leading Minnesota Vikings.

Success in recent weeks has been enjoyed by Detroit both at home and on the road. They followed that road loss in San Francisco with a home win over the Patriots in third week action and followed that with a narrow loss, 26-24, but point spread win in Dallas. The following week, they downed the Green Bay Packers at home and came out of their bye week with a road triumph last Sunday in Miami.

One of the most difficult tasks for an NFL team is to win games on both sides on their bye week. This is because a team that has a big win heading into their bye often has two weeks to gloat over the triumph and come off that success with a loss. But, the Lions came off their big win over the Packers two weeks later with a road win and point spread favorite cover in Miami last Sunday.

Consider this a notable factor in elevating the Lions chances this season.

Their opponent this Sunday is the Seattle Seahawks, who are coming off their bye week after beating the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago in London. Seattle has matched the Lions 3-3 season won/loss record but have more glaring weaknesses than Detroit. First problem in Seattle, and this has been a Pete Carroll concern for a number of seasons, is that the Seahawks offensive line is more like a turnstile at the race track. Seemingly more there to count the people passing through than actually stopping anyone.

The Seahawks have allowed 19 sacks this season despite their quarterback, Russell Wilson, being one of the most elusive signal callers in the league. The Lions feast on this with a defense that has as many sacks as any team in the NFC (they are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the conference lead with 21 takedowns).

Yep, I suppose more people picture the Lions losing to the Jets on the opening weekend than have noticed that only the Kansas City Chiefs have matched their point spread record since.

First impressions are tough to erase.

Qoxhi Picks: Detroit Lions (-2½) over Seattle Seahawks