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NFC North: Lions Could Make Playoff Run

The NFC North is still wide open entering the eighth week of the season. Teams are bunched at the top with Chicago leading the division by two games at 6-1, both Minnesota and Green Bay are at 5-3 and Detroit is 3-4. Any team in the division has a chance to win the division or at least qualify for one of the wildcard berths. The second half of the season should be pure excitement for the NFC North and the rest of the league.

Detroit might be on the outside looking in but still has a great opportunity to make the postseason. Last week the Lions helped their cause tremendously by defeating the Seattle Seahawks. However, going forward the Lions must win as many games as possible and upset one or two teams along the way.

Of their remaining games, the Lions are expected to defeat Jacksonville, Minnesota and Indianapolis. These three games are must wins for the Lions, otherwise they will have to defeat the Texans or Falcons and we know that might not happen.

Games against the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are wins the Lions need to have. Winning all three would help to ensure the Lions return for their second consecutive postseason. Both the Packers and Bears game are in Detroit and are very important as it moves them one game closer to the teams above them since they are head-to-head matchups. Between the Bears and Packers is the probable winner of the NFC North, therefore, the Lions will be completely with the other team for a wildcard berth.

Three other games against the Texans, Falcons and another against Green Bay (on the road) are all possible wins. These three games are ones the Lions have a shot at winning, but need to win at least one and hopefully two.

The Lions should be eyeing an overall record of 10-6 to ensure they reach the playoffs. That means they must play their last nine games in 7-2, not an easy task by any means considering that three are against NFC North opponents.

The Lions currently are second in the league in passing yards per game at 310 and must use that strength against their upcoming opponents, especially Jacksonville since they are weak (23rd) against the pass. Matthew Stafford has played well throwing for over 2,100 yards thus far with 8 TDs and 7 interceptions. He needs to continue hitting his two top targets Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew. Johnson has 41 receptions on the season and one touchdown, while Pettigrew has 38 receptions and 1 touchdown.

Many are questioning why Johnson does not have more than one touchdown reception on the season. Stafford said his first goal is to hit the open receiver so he has the best opportunity of completely the pass. However, that does not change the minds of fans who are wondering why just 1 touchdown after 7 games this season when he hooked  up with Johnson last season for 9 TDs in the first five games of the season.

A win this week against the Jaguars would bring the Lions back to .500 at 4-4 and give them a three game winning streak. That would leave them with eight games left on the schedule, with five at home.

Making the playoffs will not be an easy proposition, but the Lions have the young talent to get there again, and if they play their cards right, it will be this season.

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