There are a lot of reasons why the Lions' offense hasn't lived up to expectations this season, with injuries certainly playing a factor.
The first six games of the season the Lions averaged 26.2 points per game and were 3-3 on the year. Since then, over their last eight games, Detroit's averaged just 15.9 points per game and is 2-6.
Looking at those two very different stretches of the season, what jumps out in the stat book? There are a number of things, but here are the three biggest for me:
1. QB play
Matthew Stafford was humming along pretty nicely through the first six games of the season, even with the disastrous four-interception opener vs. the Jets. He was averaging 267 passing yards per game and had 12 touchdowns – averaging two per game – with just five interceptions for a passer rating of 98.8.
To say the last eight games have been a struggle is a bit of an understatement. His passing yards per game have dropped to 224. He's thrown just seven touchdowns over his last eight games, with six interceptions. His passer rating has dropped from 98.8 to 83.8 over that span.
It should be noted that Stafford has been without wide receiver Golden Tate for seven of those eight games, without Marvin Jones Jr. for five, without Kerryon Johnson for four, and has played last two games with a back injury.
The Lions ranked 16th in the NFL in rushing over their first six games. They were averaging 24.8 rushes per game for 122.3 yards per game and an average per rush close to 5.0 yards (4.9).
Over the last eight games the rushing totals have taken a nose dive. Detroit's still averaging nearly the same rushes per game (24.3), but for an average of just 88.8 yards per game. The average per rush is down significantly over that span to 3.6.
Detroit's been without Pro Bowl right guard T.J. Lang for seven of those eight games. They've rushed for over 100 yards in their last four, which has been a positive sign of late, but their numbers are still significantly down from their first six games.
3. Lack of big plays
Detroit's offense was generating big plays early in the season that can lead to points and ultimately change the course of a game. Through their first six games, Detroit generated 28 plays of 20-plus yards (six rushing & 22 passing). That comes out to nearly five per game (4.6 average).
They've generated just 21 of those 20-plus-yard plays (three rush & 18 passing) total over their last eight games. That comes out to two less per game (2.6 average).
Pro Football Focus Week 15 stats:
Top 3 graded players on offense by Pro Football Focus vs. Buffalo (at least 10 snaps):
- WR Kenny Golladay (90.5)
- T Joe Dahl (79.2)
- G Kenny Wiggins (73.9)
Bottom 3 graded players on offense by Pro Football Focus vs. Buffalo (at least 10 snaps):
- RB LeGarrette Blount (46.5)
- WR TJ Jones (52.6)
- WR Brandon Powell (52.7)
Top 3 graded players on defense by Pro Football Focus vs. Buffalo (at least 10 snaps):
- DT Damon Harrison (79.1)
- LB Christian Jones (77.7)
- S Tracy Walker (70.3)
Bottom 3 graded players on defense by Pro Football Focus vs. Buffalo (at least 10 snaps):
- CB Mike Ford (44.1)
- S Quandre Diggs (52.8)
- DE Romeo Okwara (53.0)
Here are some other statistics, both good and bad, for the Lions after 15 weeks of football:
- Detroit ranks 24th in total offense and 13th in total defense.
- The Lions don't currently have a single player graded in the top 10 at their position in the NFL. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison is the closest ranking 11th among interior defensive linemen.
- Detroit has logged 38.0 sacks through Week 15 of a single season for the first time since producing 39.0 sacks through Week 15 of the 2014 season.
- Linebacker Jarrad Davis will become one of three players in team history to finish a season with 85-plus tackles and 5.0-plus sacks. He is the first ever Lions player to reach those numbers by Week 15 of a single season.
- The Lions rank 23rd in turnover differential (minus-six). The Bears lead the NFL at plus-13.
- Wide receiver Kenny Golladay (1,005 receiving yards on the season) becomes the fourth Lions player to have a 1,000-yard season with Stafford, joining Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. He's just the 19th receiver in the NFL this year to reach 1,000 yards on the year.