At the start of the 2022 season, nobody would have thought that the Detroit Lions would be 7-7 and in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Yet, here we are.
In this spirit of the improbable seeming possible, here are four bold predictions for the Detroit Lions as they set up to face the Carolina Panthers.
James Houston does it again
Speaking of improbable, who would’ve thought that a rookie sixth-round pick, who was even cut as the team cut down their roster to a final 53, would return and record five sacks over a four-game span.
Lions rookie James Houston played his first career game on Thanksgiving. He’s had five sacks since then. 😮
📺: #DETvsNYJ on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/nW0d7KOLXR pic.twitter.com/DUM7Orjv6z
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
Houston’s impressive start to his career has been one for the NFL history books already, and I’m predicting that he’ll meet Sam Darnold in the backfield to be the first player in league history to record a sack in each of his first five games.
Goff turns it over
One historic streak continues, another one ends.
Quarterback Jared Goff has been playing the best football of his career over the last few games. Seven games have gone by since his last turnover, which is the longest such streak by any quarterback this season.
Longest active streak of passes attempted without an interception
Jared Goff (219) pic.twitter.com/KKXetYSaqZ
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 19, 2022
Unfortunately, I think that ends today. Carolina’s defense has been pretty good at turning the ball over lately, with six takeaways in their last five games.
Winning the turnover battle is one of the most understood keys to winning a football game, which is a big reason for why Detroit has been so successful lately.
All good things must come to an end, and I expect Goff to give an early Christmas gift to Carolina’s defense.
Jamaal Williams finds the end zone
The Lions running back currently holds the title for most rushing touchdowns in the NFL with 14, despite not hitting paydirt in the last two games.
Jamaal Williams notches his 13th TD of the season 🙌
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 24, 2022
Carolina’s defensive line has been strong against the run this season, and I think Detroit will find themselves in some very familiar goal line scenarios in this game. At this point, Williams very well could be the league’s best player in those kind of situations, and he will find a way to get points for the Lions once again.
It’ll be a close game
Much like the Detroit Lions, Carolina has played better than their record indicates.
After firing their head coach and releasing their starting quarterback, this team proved they have a lot of fight still in them. Even more so when you consider they still have a shot at winning their division.
Don’t expect a blowout in this matchup.