Even after a heartbreaking Thanksgiving loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Detroit Lions still have time to make a push for a wildcard spot in the NFC. Sitting at 4-7, the Lions’ final six games of the season are all winnable games. In the month of November, the Lions went 3-1 and turned around what was looking to be another lost season. The Lions need to continue this development that was seen in the month of November, and can do that with a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were able to get a last second win against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12, winning 28-27. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence marched the offense down the field with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Lawrence threw a magnificent touchdown pass to former Lions’ wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who had to make an acrobatic effort to come down with the catch. The Jaguars opted to go for the two-point conversion to take the lead. Lawrence threw to wide receiver Zay Jones and converted the attempt. The fight that the Jaguars showed at the end of this game has been consistent this season, and they have proven to be a competitive team.
With both teams sitting at 4-7, let’s look at some keys to the matchup.
Dan Campbell’s Inconsistencies
Once again, head coach Dan Campbell’s decision making hurt the team. The clock management against the Bills is largely what cost the Lions the game. Not only was there one miscue, but two. Before halftime, Campbell should have let the clock run down to the two-minute warning. Instead, the Lions fit in four plays in 33 seconds. This gave the Bills time to steal a field goal before halftime and take the lead. Then at the end of the game with 28 second remaining and two timeouts, the Lions elected to throw the ball on third and one. You have to run the ball in that situation. If you run for a first down, you can dictate how the game ends, either with a touchdown or a game tying field goal to send it to overtime. The Lions were in a position to win the game, and Campbell blew it. The clock is one of the few things you can control in football. The mistakes have been consistent, and Campbell is not learning from them. Campbell has motivated his players beyond belief, and yet the same coach who energizes this team, continues to hurt the team. This needs to stop if they want to transition to a winning team.
Time to Rest
The Lions should be thankful for Thanksgiving. The Thursday game against the Bills now gives the Lions time to rest, as they did not play on Sunday. This long break in between games is acting as a second bye week, and could give the health and energy needed to make a playoff push. Considering the health issues that the Lions have had this season, more time off is always helpful. Expect a more energized, complete team that comes out strong against the Jaguars.
Stop the Pass
Doug Pederson’s offensive scheme has brought some life to second year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has limited the turnovers this season, something he struggled to do last season. Lawrence is in the upper half of the league in every major passing statistic. This improvement has made Jacksonville’s offense revolve on the pass. To win this game, the Lions’ defense will need to stop the pass. Over the last three weeks, the Jaguars’ offensive line has allowed three sacks per game. Expect the Lions to be able to disrupt Lawrence and throw his timing off.