12 Things to Watch for In Sunday's Colts-Lions Game
Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!
Last week the Colts kept their lead for the AFC wild card with a much-needed win over the Bills. Can they continue their improbable, possibly historic march toward the playoffs or will the Lions make the road a bit rougher? Here's what to watch for this week…
1. Watch for the happy ending. The Lions are a bad team when games get tight. Their 2012 campaign has been incredibly disappointing but nothing can be so discouraging than knowing they've lost seven games by ten points or less. They literally have been on the cusp of having a much different season. On the other side the Colts have won 6 of 7 games decided by a TD or less. I'm sure Jim Schwartz would much prefer that he had a hot team rather than a hot-headed team.
2. Watch for model citizens. Head coach Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and Ndamukong Suh all had rather emotional weeks. Anger management or a trip to see Dr. Phil may be in order as the Lions are in total meltdown mode. The team has become that hot mess we all knew they could be. Perhaps this week they're all on their best behavior in an attempt to prove they can still right this ship. My money is that it looks more like an episode of C.O.P.S.
3. Watch for the rise of Megatron. Calvin Johnson currently leads all NFL receivers with a ridiculous number of receiving yards. He's got a shot at Jerry Rice's single-season record and would love nothing more than to abuse the Colts undermanned secondary on his way to the title. After watching the drubbing Cassius Vaughn gets every week Megatron has vowed to avoid eating this week because he expects a feast on Sunday.
4. Watch for Ryan Broyles. Broyles isn't getting much attention outside of Michigan, but Detroit fans are excited to see him on the field. With Titus Young out (due to being a complete headcase), Broyles showed up huge on Thanksgiving with six catches for 126 yards. Colts fans watched Broyles as a prospective draft pick in the 2012 draft, and we may be watching him tear up the Colts' secondary on Sunday if they pay too much attention to Calvin Johnson.
5. Watch for the cushion. Yes, Jacob Lacey is starting for the Detroit Lions. Let me pause to let that sink in for a minute. Jacob Lacey. Starter. I'll just say that's a hint at how Andrew Luck needs to attack this secondary. Stay away from Chris Houston and Louis Delmas, and attack the lack of depth in the Detroit secondary.
6. Watch for Hilton's honors. Rookie T.Y. Hilton was last week's AFC Special Teams player of the week. He's also on the verge of setting an Indianapolis Colts record for rookie 100-yard receiving games. To say he's exceeded expectations is a gross understatement. He leads all Colts receivers with five receiving TDs and has made an instant mark on the team. With a banged up secondary the Lions are undoubtedly facing a tough task against Wayne and Hilton.
7. Watch for a trapdoor. This isn't quite a trap game because the Colts simply haven't dominated too many teams. That said, Colts fans are thinking playoffs and have overlooked the Lions. In many regards the Lions are actually a better team on paper than the Colts but have lacked the leadership to finish games. Luckily the team apparently isn't looking past a team that could easily derail the Colts' high hopes.
8. Watch for the lonely road. The Colts have been much better at home than on the road. Andrew Luck has been turnover prone away from the confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. In fact Luck has thrown three times as many In order to win this one comfortably the Colts likely need to win the turnover battle. If they cough it up like they have on the road in the past they're going to struggle.
9. Watch for the turkey coma. The Lions have the advantage of a little extra rest after playing on Thanksgiving. While rest sounds nice it comes on the heels of a bitter loss against the Houston Texans. The Lions should have won that game were it not for a horrific blown call in the game. Jim Schwartz effectively lost the game for the Lions when he threw a challenge flag on a scoring play drawing both a 15-yard penalty and eliminating what would have been a mandatory review. Perhaps that motivates the Lions this week or is simply another case of piling on during a miserable season. Were it me I'd strap on another PBR, ignore Aunt Edna's incessant demands to help wash dishes and let the turkey coma commence.
10. Watch for an air raid. The Lions are a pass-happy bunch which isn't a surprise given how little they've committed to the run game. They throw the ball 2/3rds of the time, good for second in the league. They'd love to destroy an already weak Colts secondary and have the weapons to do so. They're also very good on third down. Combined these two facets of the Detroit Lions make this an undeniably difficult matchup for the Colts.
11. Watch for road concerns. It's no question the Colts have been a drastically different team away from LOS this year, and the Lions have played tough at home. Every loss at home has been by one score, including very close games against San Fransisco, Green Bay, and Houston. But, they haven't won a home game since October 28, so they will be dying to protect their home field.
12. Watch for the dream to continue. While the Lions are going to be a very difficult team to beat, the Colts understand they control their own destiny. This team has found their stride and should be able to keep turnovers in check. Don't look for a letdown this week. Indy wins and continues their storybook season. Colts 27 Lions 24.
Eyes is the collaborative product of Nate Dunlevy, Kyle Rodriguez and Todd Smith.