Hopes are always high as the calendar flips to September. A new season and a new opportunity for the Detroit Lions to improve upon last season's struggles.
At 0-2, however, expectations are already starting to pop like balloons. And in Week 3, the Baltimore Ravens are coming to town riding high off of a signature victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
What are the odds Detroit will beat the Ravens?
Wait, that was my first response. However, I just remembered it is Week 3 in the National Football League, and it has always struck me historically, Week 3 seems to be upset weekend.
Detroit is an eight-point underdog, according to SI Sportsbook.
Will they cover, or dare I say it, upset the Ravens outright?
The game-show buzzer answer says Baltimore covers and beats Detroit easily, like the Packers and 49ers have been able to do. However, that is why they play the games.
I still do not why understand why Lions head coach Dan Campbell elected to punt with 8:32 remaining in the 4th quarter down to 35-17 in a three possession game against the Packers?
However, if I pretend I did not see that, and had it not been for the rain, who knows what would have happened? After all, Detroit had a 17-14 lead at halftime, and they looked like they were still climbing the staircase they started to climb in their attempted comeback against San Francisco.
Yet, everything slipped away and quarterback Jared Goff looked like his confidence slipped away too.
Now this will be the moment of truth for Goff
The forecast indoors is perfect and this one will reveal where Goff is at and where this team is headed. It is early, but this is a must win game for Detroit.
If not, the Lions' fan-base just might crank up the chatter even louder and revert to the "same old Lions" sentiment. Goff must dig deep and find a way to climb out of Monday Night's meltdown.
Lions' offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn needs to pound the rock like there is no tomorrow. This offense can not afford to try to get cute because it is not their identity.
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A healthy dose of running backs Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift on the ground and through the air is the key to this offense clicking on all cylinders. It is something Detroit has tried to get away from, but it is something they need to stick with.
This approach also accomplishes two things: it controls the pace of the game and it keeps dangerous Ravens' quarterback Lamar Jackson off of the field.
Mix in a little Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, who has the size at 6-foot-5 to box out Baltimore's defenders down the seams, and Detroit may have something.
Baltimore's defense has had their struggles limiting opponents to start the season, so opportunities should be there to move the football and score points.
On the flip side, Detroit's defense is just about as bad, (ranking 31st) as they are giving up 30+ points a game.
Nobody is happier about the thought of that than Jackson. With Campbell's insistence of keeping struggling linebacker Alex Anzalone in the game, look for Jackson to target him and both of Detroit's struggling safeties, Tracy Walker and Will Harris.
Campbell noted that his team's safeties are imperative to limit the Ravens effectiveness on offense.
"I think you have to play a lot of down-safety defense and you have to be gapped out, truly gapped out, where we know exactly where our run fits are at," Campbell said ... "Man, I just think our safeties are going to be a huge part of this game for us to have success. They've got to be where they need to be and ready to fill gaps."
It is so bad that it almost like the Lions are playing with eight men on defense. Detroit has only faced pure pocket passers in Jimmy Garoppolo and Aaron Rodgers, but Jackson is a true dual-threat who can win with his arm and with his legs. Currently, Jackson has been averaging nearly 100 yards rushing per game.
Baltimore seems to have an endless supply of running backs, and the newest to be featured is Ty'Son Williams. The injury bug has not slowed down the Ravens' running attack whatsoever, as Williams has averaged 5.9 and 7.2 yards per carry his last two games.
Baltimore's offensive line is pretty darn good too, and we have not even begun talking about their receivers or tight ends.
Somebody call the proverbial bullpen and get rookie stud linebacker Derrick Barnes in the game
Detroit is almost going to have to concede the lower percentage chances of Jackson hitting the deep passes and instead commit to stacking the line of scrimmage.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn needs to do whatever he can to limit Baltimore's gashing rushing attack and take their chances that fate is on their side.
Logic says Baltimore wins this game easily by 15 or more.
However, upset weekend says the Lions win a wild one. For the second straight week, I am taking the Lions, 31-30, on a last second field goal that sails through the uprights.