In Week 1, the Detroit Lions managed to secure a victory over the St. Louis Rams. It was a closer game than many expected, with the Lions needing to rally for a last minute touchdown to gain the win. However, to be fair to the Lions, they were pretty shorthanded. Running back Jahvid Best is on the PUP list, while running back Mikel Leshoure was suspended. On defense, both cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas were already out with injuries, and then cornerback Bill Bentley had to leave the game with a concussion.
Now, the Lions have to travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. It is a tough matchup, which leads to this notion: Should the Lions be going all out to try and win this game?
That’s not to say Detroit should throw the game or not try their hardest to win. The fact is, even if they were fully healthy, the Lions would be a significant underdog in this game. San Francisco was tremendous last season. They seemed to get stronger in the offseason, and they opened the year by beating the Green Bay Packers, coming off a 15-1 season, on the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field. When was the last time the Lions managed to do that? They couldn’t even beat the Packers with Matt Flynn under center, and part of that was because of injuries to their secondary. That’s where the idea of “going all out” comes into play.
The Lions will definitely be without Best and Leshoure again, although Leshoure gets to come back next week. The status of Houston, Delmas, and Bentley is up in the air. It may be possible that some combination of those players will be able to suit up. However, should the Lions exercise caution with them? Why rush them back, and risk further injury, for a game the team is likely to lose? Maybe they can cede this battle in hopes of winning the larger war that is the NFL season. It’s a long haul, and injuries happen, and those injuries can be aggravated. If your team loses soundly as well, it is just adding insult to literal injury.
In the NFL, any team can beat any other team in any given week. After all, the Rams just nearly beat the Lions, and the Cleveland Browns came close to upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles. Even if the Lions let their trio in the secondary sit out one more week, Detroit could still possibly pull the upset. However, having them in the game doesn’t increase their odds all that much. In Week Three, Leshoure comes back, and by then Houston, Delmas, and Bentley will have had another week to rest, which certainly won’t hurt them.
It’d be great for the Lions if they could pull the upset in a nationally televised game, but if they lose, it’s a loss that most people expected. It won’t hurt the team’s playoff potential all that much. What would hurt more is losing a key player for an extended period of time. As such, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Detroit to exercise caution with their injured players in terms of their contest with the San Francisco 49ers. It could pay off in the long run.
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Chris has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.