BARRY SANDERS BLOG: WHAT THE LIONS NEED TO DO
By BARRY SANDERS
Last year, the Lions appeared to come out of nowhere a suddenly formidable strong team. As almost a Cinderella story that blindsided many teams. Even though the record doesn't show it, the truth is we were a few special teams plays away from being undefeated. It's frustrating. I know first-hand.
I think the team needs to come together and cut out all the silly mental mistakes that are killing us. Unlike when I played, the Lions have talent all over the field. I believe in the front office and coach, and so should fans. The season is far from over and we just need to play smarter, and use all the weapons on O and D that we have.
This week the Lions take on the Eagles in what I expect to be another tough matchup. Two teams with high expectations, and the Eagles keep making it happen. They are a 3-1 team that won't go easy on the Lions. I hear and read about all of the comparisons of LeSean McCoy to myself. He has some sharp moves and is one of the top-ranking RBs for yards. He’s definitely the one to contain. Michael Vick has all of the talent and when he plays smart he's able to pull off impressive comebacks. To get a W this week, we need to do three things:
1) Protect Matthew Stafford. He can’t help the team from his back.
2) Get pressure on and contain Vick. We can’t put pressure on our secondary to cover for 4-plus seconds.
3) Play better on special teams. We just can’t afford to give up points and field position.
I was recently down in Houston and got to visit with Arian Foster. While I think everyone expected him to have another great year, those Texans are quite the surprise for me and are really shaping up to be a strong playoff contender. They get the Jets on Monday Night, and Gang-Green is coming off an embarrassing loss last week. Without Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis, it might be easy to look past them, but I expect Houston to keep focus and stay undefeated.
Also sneaking up in the rankings to everyone’s surprise is the Cardinals. They get the Rams this week, and although many may not see it this way, I believe that when your team is a real contender it wins the games it is supposed to win. So we will see if the Cardinals can stay hot. There is so much parity amongst teams in the league, and so much talent on most squads that I expect we will see this from year to year. Dominant teams like the Saints falling back, and surprises like the Cards. You never know what to expect and just how teams are going to perform, or underperform. This is part of what makes the game exciting. Gives hope to fans. Fantasy team owners.
The game of the week for me has to be the Broncos vs. the Patriots. Peyton vs. Brady. In what is a quarterback driven league, this is a battle between two of best ever, and everyone has to be excited about this matchup. I don’t know if it will be as good as some of the old Pats-Colts games, but I do expect them both to be able to move the ball and this could be a real shootout.
The NFL's third-ranked rusher all-time previews each week's games on his "Around the League with Barry Sanders" blog. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection while spending his entire career with the Detroit Lions . At Oklahoma State he won the 1988 Heisman Trophy, and he remains active with charity efforts for the Boys and Girls Club and the Scleroderma Foundation.