NFC North: Detroit’s Tate Has Golden Opportunity Against Steelers

Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR

Detroit’s Lions are are currently facing an all or nothing proposition at this point in the season.  

Either, we’ll hear start to hear the Motor City’s team roar and soar or there may have to be an uproar in Michigan. Things have looked bad going back to Week 5 as they loss to the Carolina Panthers at home. Matt Stafford had to try and play the role of hero but came up shy as they fell 27-24. Another loss in New Orleans followed the Carolina defeat — the less said about that, the better.

In the midst of an unforseen mid-season lull, now’s time for the Lions to regroup and in a hurry!

Detroit will be at home Sunday Night as they will host the Pittsburgh Steelers who are coming off a nice two-game win streak which saw them ousted the Chiefs and Bengals to put themselves in a nice two-game lead atop the AFC North.

Offensive mainstays for the Lions, Matt Stafford and Golden Tate, were each  listed as probable during the week but both should be available by kickoff Sunday night. 

Tate being available in that gameplan is particularly important and he’s spoken this week like he’s ready to go after resting through a bye week in spite of his lingering shoulder issue.

“Over this bye week, I had a chance to get a lot of rest and my wife cooked really well,” Tate said after Thursday’s practice.  

“I’m 29, so I guess I’m considered young still, so I guess I can still heal up pretty quickly.”   

Hearing such confidence has to be more than a big sigh of relief for Lions fans. On the other hand, Stafford is dealing with a nagging ankle injury, he is ready to go but he should be warned as a nice pass rush will come after him from Pittsburgh. The Steelers enter this game with the second most sacks in the league (24).

The game plan for the Lions is simple: challenge the Steelers on long drives.

The Steelers seem to struggle on the kick return in special teams, where they rank 15th in the league with 22.0 yards per return. There’s a chance that Pittsburgh will have few drives starting anywhere close to mid-field and even fewer in Detroit’s field. That’ll mean a healthy amount of passing — not surprising in general for the Steelers — but it’ll be something to watch against a Detroit team entering this contest as the No. 4 scoring defense in the league with 3 of their defensive scores coming from pick-6s.

Detroit is currently are looking up at the Vikings who have a 1 ½ game lead on the North division. The time is now Lions fans —  either make that push for the first division title in 24 years or its “Eh, we still trust in Caldwell in taking us to the Playoffs for another year.”

To me an approach such as the latter would only be worthy of a team named the “Cowardly Lions!”

Vikings/Browns Could Get Bloody in ‘Ol England

 

Elsewhere in the division, Green Bay takes a needed week off while the Minnesota Vikings travel along with the Browns across the Atlantic to do battle Sunday morning at Twickenham Stadium in Great Britain.   

Browns coach Hue Jackson has to hear the noise around him getting louder with each loss, along with the seat getting hotter. Jackson is currently 1-22 since taking over the top position in Cleveland. Meanwhile Jackson’s good friend and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer may be one of the few people in the league who hasn’t lost faith in him just yet.  

Jackson and Zimmer go back to their days as being assistant coaches on Marvin Lewis’ staff of the Bengals from 2012-2013 and were once paired as offensive and defensive coordinators for the 2007 Atlanta Falcons.

“Hue and I are really close,” Zimmer said during a media press conference this week.

“We have been in the same room a lot of times and been together, he went to my daughter’s wedding. When we are in the same town, we always end up seeing each other. Hue is a heck of a football coach.”

Once again for the Vikings, its business as usual as they will look, with a easy opponent this week, to further separate itself from the rest of the NFC North. Minnesota should have little trouble against a desperate Cleveland team who is 0-7 for the third time since their return back to the NFL in 1999.

The Browns are the leading the league with the most turnovers at 19 and are heading to an all-time low with 17 interceptions already this season. Off and on starting quarterback DeShone Kizer leads the league with 11 of those picks.

One thing to look out for in spite off those bad stats is that between these two teams the Browns have a slight edge over the Vikings in the Red Zone scoring department, where the Vikings are 27th in the league compared to the Browns’ 25th.

In the meanwhile, Vikings fans are still hoping that they will see the return of Teddy Bridgewater sometime soon. The door has not been slammed on that decision, but Bridgewater isn’t likely to start this week, though he could still suit up.  

Speaking of slamming doors, the Vikings will have a chance to officially crush the Browns and their hopes of finally sniffing a victory and having something to look forward to in 2017. The ball is in the Vikings court as the play close to the Queen’s court. If Minnesota handles business in Merry Ol’ England then they should be quite merry going into their Week 9 bye as division leaders.   

Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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