The Detroit Lions, arguably the hottest team in the NFL, will be in Carolina today, taking on the Panthers. Dan Campbell's team will look to continue their surge into the playoffs, and we’ll be previewing the game and going over why I’ll be backing the Lions to keep winning.
The Panthers had looked like a much better team since Sam Darnold took over at quarterback, but last weekend against the Steelers, they reverted back to the below-average team we’ve seen most of the season. Carolina’s offense only managed to score just 16 points and had one touchdown. It was more than clear they came back to Earth offensively, as they finished with a total of 21 rushing yards and only 12 first downs.
Defensively the Panthers have looked much better over the past five weeks, and on the season, they are allowing the second-fewest yards after the catch in the league. The injury concerns on the defensive end look like they won’t play much of a factor today either, as all defensive players listed on the injury report, including Jaycee Horn, practiced fully on Thursday.
Carolina will undoubtedly need all hands on deck for this surging Lions offense. Detroit has won six of their last seven games, becoming the fifth-best scoring offense in the league. The Lions are averaging 5.8 yards per play and now rank eighth in the league in passing yards per game.
Jared Goff has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions over the last three games and will now face a Panthers defense that is forcing an average of one turnover per game, which is 28th in the NFL.
Defensively over the past three weeks, this Lions' defense which is still ranked at the bottom of the league in many statistical categories, has put together three straight strong performances. Detroit’s run defense allowed less than 100 rushing yards in all three games and managed to force a combined four turnovers as well.
The Lions are -2.5 point road favorites in this one, and I’ll be taking them as my best bet. Detroit has shown no signs of stopping or slowing down, and the one area of the team that was holding them back, the defense, is now finding their groove. The Panthers are 24th in the league in points per game and only managed to get their scoring off field goals in the second half of last weekend's loss, so the Lions should be able to put up their fourth straight solid defensive performance.
Defensively the Panthers are tied for fourth in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed, with a total of 16 already this season. The running back duo of Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift will be able to find a lot of success today, especially with Williams’ knack for finding the end zone this season.
Carolina has also struggled to put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, totaling just 29 sacks this season. With the Lions' offensive line having the second-lowest QB sack percentage this season, Jared Goff should be able to continue to make smart decisions and have another solid offensive performance.
Detroit Lions (-2.5)