Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How have preseason predictions changed after 8 games?

Posted Oct 31, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 5-3 Lions get a much-needed break for the bye week

Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive through my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman," which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

Your win loss prediction for the lions at the beginning of the season and has that prediction changed through 8 weeks? Ethan (@EthanWalworth)

20man: I had them going 9-7 at the beginning of the year, Ethan.

I probably adjust that one or two games on the win column after the 5-3 start and looking at the strength of their opponents in the second half.

The eight second-half opponents for the Lions (at Chicago, at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, at Philadelphia, Baltimore, N.Y. Giants, at Minnesota) have a combined record of 20-38.

Who would have guessed the Giants (2-6) would play as bad as they are so far and the Ravens (3-4) would be under .500 at this point in the season.

Include winnable games on the road in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota, and 10 wins should be the expectation at this point, with 11 wins certainly a possibility.

In your opinion, what's the #Lions biggest Defensive concern moving forward? D-Line rush or Secondary containment? Robert Polacek (@RobertPolacek)

20man: They are both a concern, really.

The Lions have just 13 sacks in eight games, which are the fifth-fewest in the NFL, but the containment by the secondary, and the big plays allowed, has been the biggest problem the first half of the season.

The defense ranks second on third down and sixth in the red zone, but has allowed the most points (99) in the NFL outside of the red zone. The seven pass plays of 40-plus yards given up so far are the third-most in the NFL. The four rushing plays allowed of 40-plus yards are the most.

The Lions can be a solid defense if they’d just limit the big plays.

With the emergence of Theo Riddick, what is the reasoning for keeping Leshoure? Was there no value on the market for him? Mike Nowak (@mikenowak32)

20man: What happens if something happen to Joique Bell, Mike.

All those short yardage and power packages are no longer as effective.

Some would argue that Montell Owens could run some of those packages, but let’s not forget he’s coming off a significant knee injury that’s kept him out the entire year so far.

The Lions were willing to listen to offers for Leshoure, but keeping him as an insurance policy for Bell is more valuable than a sixth or seventh round draft pick.

With emergence of Waddle and Warford as starters do you see #Lions drafting a C? Seems like a young, dominant line. Tom Paulson (@tomjpaulson)

20man: Let’s wait and see if Waddle keeps the job moving forward. That’ll be an early second-half-of-the-season decision for head coach Jim Schwartz and Co.

As far as the center position is concerned, the Lions will need to address the future of the position very soon.

Dominic Raiola is having one of the best seasons of his career, and says he wants to play a couple more years, but he is 34 years old and the end is getting closer.

If Dylan Gandy, Leroy Harris or Rodney Austin aren't in the long-term plans, look for the Lions to use this year’s draft to get their guy of the future.

Arkansas’s Travis Swanson and Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu are a couple early top prospects at the position.

Can lions survive with depleted wr corps? Terrell W. (@Tha_Lion_King)

20man: The Lions lost Ryan Broyles for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury.

However, they’ll most likely be getting Nate Burleson and his 19 catches and 239 yards of production back for the Chicago game.

The Lions are actually getting a big part of their passing game back in Burleson, who was the team’s leading receiver, who was coming off a 100-yard game before he was injured.

Burleson steps into the slot with Calvin Johnson and Kris Durham outside. Jeremy Ross can fill in in a reserve role in the slot.

Maybe it’s just me, but I see the Lions in a better situation at receiver vs. Chicago than they were last week vs. Dallas.

It’s not as depleted as you think.

Does a Chicago win or Green Bay win this week help Detroit more? Elijah Slater (@EliSlater)

20man: I think when it’s all said and done the Lions and Packers will be battling for the division and the loser of that battle will get the wildcard berth.

The less teams nipping at the heals of that second-place team the better, in my opinion. Either Seattle or San Francisco are getting one wildcard I see Chicago and Carolina as two of those teams that could challenge Green Bay or Detroit.

I’d rather see the Bears lose and get out of the playoff picture entirely. That will leave the Lions to take care of their own business, including a matchup with Green Bay on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.

Is it time for the media to throttle back the talk of @Staff_9 mechanics and accept his usually stellar play? Justin Eveland (@JKenethE)

20man: Everyone is welcome to his or her own opinion, Justin.

Some people watch Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and wonder why Matthew Stafford can’t be more like them.

When I watch Stafford, I see Brett Favre, and I’m just fine with that. He plays the game more off feel than he does being technically sound and it allows him to make plays a lot of other quarterbacks can't.  

People can say what they want, but the Lions were very happy Stafford was their quarterback last Sunday vs. Dallas.

What starters are in their contract year? Eddie Davis (@MexiEd9313)

20man: The Lions are in pretty good shape there, Eddie.

Unrestricted free agents: C Dominic Raiola, TE Brandon Pettigrew, DE Willie Young, K David Akers, CB Rashean Mathis and LS Don Muhlbach.

Restricted free agents: RB Joique Bell and WR Kris Durham.

Pettigrew is probably the most irreplaceable name on that list right now because of the situation at the position.

All the key core players on this team are signed at least through 2014.

What player do you think needs to stand up to ensure a playoff berth? Louis Mazzei (@LouisMazzei)

Nick FairleyDT Nick Fairley (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

20man: I thought the Lions defensive front was much better vs. Dallas because defensive tackle Nick Fairley awoke from his recent slumber.

He was active in the backfield and also down the field and caused at least two bad throws by my count from Tony Romo because of pressures and hits.

When he is taking advantage of the one-on-one matchups he gets it opens things up for a lot of other players, including Ziggy Ansah on that side.

There are many good candidates for this questions, but for me, the defensive line needs a jump-start and Fairley can help provide it when he’s on his game.

Do you think Calvin Johnson could make a run at the MVP this year? Durk (@A_Durk)

20man: It all depends on how the Lions finish, but Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would have to have a catastrophic second half to not win his fifth MVP award.

He’s led the Broncos to a 7-1 start and has 29 touchdown passes. Drew Brees is second with 19.

It’s a runaway, folks.

BONUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK

At the end of Stafford’s career do you think his stats get devalued because of having Calvin and his jump ball ability? Jacob Baumann (@Jacob_A_Baumann)

20man: At the end of Calvin Johnson’s career do you think they’ll devalue his stats because he had a strong-armed quarterback in Stafford who could deliver him the football anywhere on the field?

I don’t think a lot people devalue what Joe Montana did because he had Jerry Rice.

The only thing that can devalue Stafford’s stats is never winning a Super Bowl.