The Detroit Lions incurred a series of fines this week. Not imposed by fans, who probably deserve a lot better for the price of a ticket than the Lions have delivered in recent years, but from the league.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford re-aggravated a back injury on November 3 in a loss to the Oakland Raiders, 31-24. The following week, the Lions listed their quarterback as questionable for their upcoming game against division rival Chicago. The point spread on the game had the Bears listed as a 2½ point home favorite until Sunday morning, when the Lions announced Stafford would miss the start and the line quickly ballooned to Chicago by 6½ points.
Stafford is as tough as nails, and plays through injuries like you or I wouldn’t miss work due to a paper-cut. But, he was never going to play against the Bears after suffering his injury against Oakland, nor for at least six more weeks, because the injury he suffered against the Raiders resulted in broken bones in his back.
The Lions knew it when they listed him on the injury report as “questionable.”
Why would they do that?
Perhaps it is part of the lessons Detroit Head Coach Matt Patricia picked up from his mentor in New England, Bill Belichick. The Patriots head coach is known for taking any advantage available, legal or not, to put his team in a more advantageous position to win. If the Bears had to prepare for the probability of Stafford starting, Patricia considered it an advantage when on game-day he sprung backup Jeff Driskel on Chicago’s defense.
The perceived advantage was not enough to get the Lions a win over Chicago, as the Bears won the Soldier Field contest both straight-up and against the expanded point spread, 20-13.
The Lions haven’t won a game since, and Stafford is still sidelined while first Driskel, and after he was injured, David Blough led their offense.
This week, the Lions bounce off their fines from the league and look to end their six game losing streak when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come calling.
The Bucs and Lions used to meet twice a year when they both played out of the NFC Central Division before realignment in 2002. Sunday’s game between these two NFC teams is their ninth meeting since the two teams were shifted to the NFC North and NFC South Divisions. In those nine games the Lions have won seven straight-up and five of nine versus the point spread.
You know how deep you have to go into record books to find a spot the Lions out-stat their opponents?
Does that mean Detroit is going to beat the Buccaneers this week?
The Bucs are in the midst of a resurgence on their season which includes three straight victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars on the road, and versus the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday in Florida.
So, take the streaking Buccaneers?
The Bucs aren’t going to win this game based on winning their last three anymore than the Lions are going to win based on victories in 7 of 9 games played against Tampa Bay since 2002.
The Lions are going to win this game because they are perfectly positioned to upset Tampa Bay who arrive in Detroit overconfident and a favorite on the point spread. They will do it first with their defense, which is poised to take advantage of a Tampa Bay offense that turns the ball over as if they work on that in practice.
Qoxhi Picks: Detroit Lions (+4) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers