Next 5 Notes Week 3: Look ahead to the Lions next five opponents

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Now that we have looked back to hash and rehash why the Lions lost to the Falcons (it was a self-inflicted loss, by the way), let’s look forward at the next five opponents the Lions will face. All but one of them is 2-1 and three of the five won this past weekend. Here are the biggest stories coming out of their locker rooms.

WEEK 4 – at Minnesota Vikings (2-1), US Bank Stadium

The lingering question is if quarterback Sam Bradford will play this week against the Lions. He has been out since Week 1, with Case Keenum taking his place. Keenum was bad in his first start and was excellent on Sunday in a 34-17 win over Tampa Bay. He went 25-for-33 for a career-high 369 yards with 3 TDs and no interceptions.  Stefon Diggs is a playmaker, hauling in 173 yards and two of those scores. It isn’t just the passing game Detroit needs to worry about. Rookie running back Delvin Cook had 97 yards on the ground. The Vikings defense has been really good this year but gave up 342 yards. However, only 26 of that was on the ground. Looks like another one-dimensional game for Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense when they head to Minnesota on Sunday.

WEEK 5 – vs. Carolina Panthers (2-1), Ford Field

The Panthers dropped their first game of the season Sunday, getting punked at home 34-13 by the Saints.  Everyone has been waiting for Cam Newton to return to form, but it isn’t happening. Newton threw for only 167 yards, was sacked four times, and tossed three interceptions. That was against a New Orleans defense that was ranked last in the NFL coming in. He was so bad, he got benched in the fourth quarter. The team lost tight end Greg Olsen the week before and had receiver Kelvin Benjamin knocked out early in this one. Their only bright spot was rookie running back Christian McCaffrey who hauled in nine catches for 101 yards. It doesn’t get any easier for the Panthers, who play at New England on Sunday.

WEEK 6 – at New Orleans Saints (1-2), Mercedes-Benz Superdome

As bad as Sunday was for the Panthers, it was that great for the Saints, who earned their first victory of the year in the 34-13 drubbing noted above. They dominated on defense, and Drew Brees showed once again that age is just a number. The 38-year old only missed on six of his 28 passes and ended the day with 220 yards through the air and three touchdown ptoses. The Panthers had the #1 defense in the NFL coming in, giving up a total of six points in their first two games. New Orleans scored more than that in every quarter of this game. It wasn’t just Brees’s arm, though. They ran for 149 yards in this game. This is going to be a long week for the Saints, who now have to fly to another continent to play the Dolphins in London on Sunday.

WEEK 7 – Bye

WEEK 8 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1), Ford Field

The Steelers lost their first game of the season, falling 23-17 in overtime in Chicago. The vaunted Pittsburgh defense was bad against the run. The Bears rolled over them for 220 yards rushing, including 138 yards on 23 carries for Jordan Howard, who added the 19-yard clinching score in OT. A couple Michiganders paced the Steelers, with former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell taking 15 carries for 61 yards and a TD, and former Central Michigan wideout Antonio Brown lighting up Chicago for 100 yards on 10 catches and one score. Pittsburgh heads to Baltimore Sunday to renew their rivalry with the Ravens.

WEEK 9 – at Green Bay Packers (2-1), Lambeau Field

The Packers needed every second and then some to take out a winless Bengals squad on Sunday. Green Bay was down 21-7 at the half and needed some late Aaron Rodgers heroics to make this a game. He hit Jordy Nelson to tie the game with just 17 seconds remaining, then used his patented hard-count to draw Cincy offside in overtime for a free play that turned into a 72-yard catch and run by Geronimo Allison.

That set up the game-winning Mason Crosby kick for the 26-23 Packers victory. There were some weird things for Rodgers that came out of this game: he threw only the second interception that was returned for a touchdown in his career; this is shockingly the first time he ever won an overtime game, losing the previous seven; and it was Rodgers’s first win against the Bengals, meaning he has now beaten every NFL team except one. That one? The Green Bay Packers. Got you…sorry. It is a short week for the Packers who host Chicago on Thursday night.

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