Next 5 Notes Week 4: Look ahead to the Lions next five opponents

The Lions finished the first quarter of the season with a 14-7 win over Minnesota and are now 3-1 and tied for first place in the NFC North. Here is a look at what the next quarter (plus one game) of the season holds as we take a look at the biggest stories coming out of the locker rooms of Detroit’s next five opponents.

WEEK 5 – vs. Carolina Panthers (3-1), Ford Field

Cam Newton FINALLY showed up in Carolina’s last-minute 33-30 win over New England this past Sunday. Newton went 22-for-29 with three TDs and added 44 yards rushing on eight carries. Cam also spread it around, with eight Panthers’ receivers catching at least one ball, led by Kelvin Benjamin’s 104 yards receiving. Benjamin was a question mark heading into the game after suffering a knee injury the week before. Apparently, he is OK. It just figures Newton chose to return to MVP form right before the Panthers come to Detroit for a catfight against the Lions this Sunday.

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

The Saints went into their game in London with one of the worst defenses in the NFL, giving up 26 points per game. So, of course, they shut out Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. The Saints looked like they were heading for a disaster of a season when they lost their first two games, but now they are riding a 2-game winning streak and are only a game out of first place in the NFC South. Rookie running back Alvin Kamara brought some anarchy to the UK with 96 all-purpose yards including 71 through the air. Like Drew Brees needed another weapon. If this defense proves to be even middle-of-the-road, the Saints will have something to say in the conference. In addition, they get a week off to get ready to host the Lions.

WEEK 7 – Bye

WEEK 8 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1), Ford Field

The Steelers bounced back big-time after their Week 3 loss to the Bears. The Steelers offense shredded the Ravens in Baltimore 26-9. Le’Veon Bell ran for 144 yards and two scores while Ben Roethlisberger completed three or more passes to five different receivers, including nine to Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger was only workman-like however, going just 18-for-30 for 216 yards and a touchdown pass to rookie receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. I only mentioned that because I love saying Juju Smith-Schuster. I bet it was fun to read, too, wasn’t it? Pittsburgh returns home from two straight road games to host the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars.

WEEK 9 – at Green Bay Packers (3-1), Lambeau Field

The Packers get some extra rest this week after beating up Chicago 35-14 last Thursday night. They need it. Green Bay has been riddled with injuries, and those extra couple days could be just what the doctor ordered. Aaron Rodgers only threw for 179 yards in the game but tossed four touchdown passes. They also went 7-for-14 on third down. The crazy thing about that game is the Bears outgained, had more first downs, won the time of possession battle, outpassed, and outrushed the Packers. And lost by three TDs. Green Bay is in Dallas this weekend.

WEEK 10 – vs. Cleveland Browns (0-4), Ford Field

Yeah…the Browns. What is there to say? They made the winless Bengals look like world-beaters in a 31-7 game. Cleveland has just one win in their last 20 games and managed just 215 total yards. They have not lead in any of their four games this season. Not for a single minute. My mommy always told me to if I couldn’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. So I’m going to stop talking about Cleveland, other than to say they host the Jets on Sunday.