Opening week could not have gone better for Detroit Lions fans. The discipline that we were all hoping to see Head Coach Jim Caldwell and Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi bring to Matthew Stafford’s game was evident right from the start. Stafford did not throw a single interception against the Giants he threw two touchdown passes against the Giants while completing 66.8% of his passes. Calvin Johnson was spectacular with 2 touchdowns on 7 receptions catching 63.6% of his passes. Golden Tate proved to be the receiver who would take some heat off of Calvin Johnson with six catches and a 100% reception ratio. The Lions secondary surprisingly played very well against the Giants receivers despite expectations that Eli Manning would be able to throw on them. The Lions pass rush was in the Giants backfield all game. This week Stafford is going to face a much tougher defense in the Carolina Panthers. This week will be a real test for Stafford’s knew found discipline against a Panthers defense that sacked Josh McCown three times intercepted him twice and forced two fumbles. The Lions secondary will also be tested by a returning Cam Newton, and the front seven for the Lions will have to contain Cam Newton to avoid having their secondary deficiencies exposed. Admittedly in the first half against the Giants the Lions looked like they were going to shoot themselves in the foot the way they always seem to do of late, but to the surprise of many the Lions played penalty free in the second half, rest assured if the Lions have a repeat of their penalty woes of the first half the Panthers are far more well equipped than the Giants to take advantage of those mistakes.
The Carolina Panthers will have Cam Newton back this week. The Panthers concern is how well Newton is going to hold up against a physical front seven like the Lions. The Lions secondary will be sorely tested by Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen who combined to catch 73.6% of the passes thrown their way for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers also put up 113 yards on the ground something the Lions defense will have to respect. If Newton can’t hold up, Derek Anderson looked competent last week but I don’t think Anderson has the skill set to beat this Lions front four. With all that said Newton can expose the Lions secondary for the fraud that it is.
The key matchup in this game is Matthew Stafford versus the Panthers secondary. The Panthers will get a better pass rush than the Giants if Stafford can avoid throwing bad interceptions the Lions should win this game. The Lions front four versus the Panthers offensive line is an important matchup, but as long as Stafford plays a clean game the Lions should win even in a shootout against the Panthers simply because the Lions have the better offense.
The Lions in the first half scared me as they looked like the old shoot yourself in the foot Lions who break our hearts every year, I’m hesitant to believe that the new look Lions are for real, but a clean game by Stafford coupled with a victory in Carolina would go a long way towards convincing me.
Final Score: Detroit Lions 35 Carolina Panthers 30