Skip to main content

O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Breaking down the Lions' remaining six games

Quarterback Jared Goff repeated in his postgame press conference what head coach Dan Campbell told the team in the locker room after the game.

"Every week is going to be a reload," Goff said. "How do we reload and come back out and play good ball?

"We're behind the eight ball a little bit. We have plenty of games left."

"Plenty" might be stretching it a little with six games left and a 4-7 won-loss record. Getting to 5-6 with a win over the Bills would have been better, but the Lions seemed eager to take on the challenge before they departed Ford Field for a mini-break.

"Everyone in this locker room is excited for what we have coming up," wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. "This next six weeks and just building off what we've done these last four weeks."

This week's Monday Countdown looks at the Lions' realistic target for a playoff berth, and at a breakdown of the Lions' final six opponents and how they match up.

We start with the target then go to the final 6 opponents:

Wild card or nothing. The Vikings lead the NFC North with a 9-2 record after their win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving Day. With the other three NFC North teams under .500, the Vikings would almost have to forfeit their last six games to not win the North title.

Lions' final six opponents:

Week 13 vs. Jaguars

They were 2-1 after three games and building hope that they were coming out of their doldrums under new head coach Doug Pederson. Five straight losses put them on the skids. An upset over the Ravens Sunday helps their cause. They lack firepower offensively except for running back Travis Etienne but have been close to top 10 defensively against the run and pass.

Final 6 rank: 5th

Lions' win formula: Play good, solid football. The Jags are on the way to having six or fewer wins for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons.

Week 14 vs. Vikings

The Vikings have a lock on the NFC North title with an 8-2 record and could coast home with no division rival at .500 or better. The Vikings have talent on offense with running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, and an elite-level pass rush duo in Za'Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter.

Final 6 rank: 1st

Lions' win formula: Do what they did in the first meeting in Week 3. They had a 24-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Vikings scored two TDs in the last 7:50 to win a game the Lions should have won. Defensive breakdowns and a questionable coaching decision contributed to the loss more than anything the Vikings did themselves.

A 50-50 game. I like the Lions to win by a coin flip. (Maybe rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams will catch his first TD pass?)

Week 15 at Jets

Head coach Robert Saleh is trying to break the losing streak that has hounded the Jets. In the last 11 seasons the Jets have had one winning record and no playoff appearances. The Jets have a top 10 defense, anchored by Quinnen Williams, a bottom five offense and a quarterback controversy with the benching of Zach Wilson.

Final 6 rank: 3rd

Lions' win formula: Don't give the Jets' offense anything cheap, no matter who plays quarterback. Make them work for their points, and win the turnover battle. Get the ball to Williams. I'm assuming he'll be playing by this time. In fact, the Jets might be game-planning for him.

Week 16 at Panthers

No need to complicate this one. Head coach Matt Rhule was fired five games into his third season. Sam Darnold became the third starting quarterback of the season in Week 12, after PJ Walker and Baker Mayfield. The Panthers are in turmoil.

Final 6 rank: 6th

Lions' win formula: The Lions can beat themselves if they take this game for granted and are overconfident. Campbell and his staff and the veteran leaders cannot let that happen. There's too much at stake.

Week 17 vs. Bears

The second of three rematches with division rivals and potentially the scariest of all three because of quarterback Justin Fields' ability to change the game on his own. He did that with a 67-yard TD run vs. the Lions in Week 10 that gave the Bears a brief lead in the Lions' 31-30 win. Assuming he's playing, Fields is a one-man threat.

Final 6 rank: 4th

Lions' win formula: Don't have breakdowns like the one that left tight end Colt Kmet open for an easy TD in the first meeting, and limit the damage Fields does

Week 18 at Packers

No way to predict how Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will play out the final game after a season of turmoil. The Packers have some good young players, such as rookie wide receiver Christian Watson.

Final 6 rank: 2nd

Lions' win formula: Get after Rodgers and get turnovers like they did in the first meeting. They aren't likely to get three interceptions off of Rodgers, but keep the heat on.

If the Lions play their game, they could have a Week 19 game on their schedule.

Related Content