Thu, 26 Nov 2020

TWENTYMAN: 5 numbers Lions have improved since bye week

Detroit Lions
29 Oct 2020, 00:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

The Detroit Lions have stacked a couple wins together the last two weeks, and at 3-3, have put themselves into a position to make a little run here. They need to continue to put some wins together with six of their final 10 games at home, and the combined record of their remaining 10 opponents at 32-33.

Detroit's played winning football the last two weeks, so let's see how they got there. Here's a look at five numbers that have fueled Detroit's current win streak:

2.6: That's the average yards per carry Jacksonville and Atlanta combined for running the football the last two weeks. Detroit allowed 44 rushing yards on 16 carries vs. Jacksonville (2.8 average) and 66 yards on 26 carries to Atlanta (2.5).

The Lions had allowed 681 yards on 132 carries for a 5.2 average per carry through the first four weeks of the season leading up to their bye week. Detroit self-evaluated that part of the defense over the bye, and to their credit, made some changes to scheme and personnel groupings.

Don't think there's a correlation between stopping the running and winning football games? In Detroit's three losses (Chicago, Green Bay and New Orleans), the Lions allowed 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. In their three wins (Arizona, Jacksonville and Atlanta), that number fell to 3.2 per rush.

18: This number goes along with with the first one. It's the average number of quarterback pressures the Lions have had, per Pro Football Focus statistics, over the last two games (21 vs. Jacksonville and 15 vs. Atlanta). Detroit's ability to stop the run over the last two weeks has put them in some better down-and-distance situations to ramp up the pressure and attack the quarterback with their pass rush.

Over the first four games, that number averaged 11 pressures per game (17 vs. Chicago, 8 vs. Green Bay, 9 vs. Arizona and 9 vs. New Orleans). During that span over the first month of games, teams were averaging 170.4 rushing yards per game.

Detroit's ability to pressure the quarterback, get him off his spot and affect timing has helped play a factor in the two wins the last couple weeks.

3-1: The most important statistic in football is the turnover ratio, and the Lions have won the turnover battle in each of the last two weeks. Detroit got a critical turnover in the fourth quarter Sunday in Atlanta on a sack-strip by Romeo Okwara recovered by Trey Flowers. It led to a 49-yard Matt Prater field goal. Detroit didn't turn the ball over at all in Atlanta Sunday.

Two weeks ago in Jacksonville, the Lions' defense forced two turnovers and the offense turned it over just once. Safety Duron Harmon had an interception, and Flowers forced a fumble recovered by Okwara. Detroit didn't score any points off those two Jags turnovers, but both occurred in Lions' territory and essentially took points off the board for the Jags.

Detroit holds a 3-1 advantage in the turnover battle the last two weeks.

10 takeaways from Bevell, Undlin & Coombs O'HARA: What we learned from Week 7 KEY QUESTIONS: How has the defensive line performed the last two weeks?

75%: Maximizing scoring opportunities and not leaving points on the field is key to being a consistently productive scoring offense. The Lions have converted red-zone opportunities into touchdowns 75 percent of the time (6-of-8) the last two weeks.

This was an area where the Lions struggled a bit through their 1-3 start. Detroit's offense was just 10-of-18 for a 55 percent red-zone scoring average over the first month of the season.

Detroit's done a good job the last couple weeks getting into the end zone from the red zone, and not settling for field goals as much.

70.1: STATS INC.'s "Protection Index" is a statistic that measures offensive line play using different statistical elements like passing attempts and yards (excluding yards after the catch), sacks, quarterback knockdowns, hurries and penalties, including holding and false starts to form a numerical index assigned to each unit. The higher the number, the better the offensive line is playing overall.

Over the last two weeks, that number has averaged 70.1 for the Lions (73.5 vs. Jacksonville and 66.7 vs. Atlanta). That's a far cry from the 38.1 the team averaged over their first four games (57.0, 35.7, 31.2 and 29.3).

To put that number in a little bit of perspective, Tampa Bay currently leads the NFL with a protection index of 73.2. New Orleans is second (71.9), and Green Bay is third (71.7). Detroit currently ranks 22nd (49.6), but that's really the first four weeks bringing their total down.

Detroit's offensive line has been pretty good all year, especially opening up holes in the run game, but they've been much better the last couple weeks in the overall protection of quarterback Matthew Stafford too.

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