MONDAY HUDDLE: Are the playoffs a realistic possibility for Lions?

How TCU can present problems for Michigan, Ferris State wins showdown with Grand Valley State

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 04: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field on December 04, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (Nic Antaya, 2022 Getty Images)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

Lions brimming with confidence with winnable games coming up

The Lions are in the graphic right now!

For those who don’t what that means, it’s where teams and their logos/records are shown on TV broadcasts listing the playoff picture/list of playoff hopefuls in the NFC.

Yes, the Lions are still way down in that graphic at 5-7, but after four wins in their last five games, they are at least creeping up and getting on the radar.

Even better is that there’s legitimate hope of the Lions climbing further with a favorable schedule.

Next up for the Lions is a home game against the Vikings, who might be 10-2, but Minnesota has lived a charmed life winning close games this year and is a team the Lions should’ve beaten in Week 3 on the road.

A trip to New York to face an improved Jets team the week after will be tough, but then the Lions finish with games against three of the league’s worst teams in Carolina, Chicago and Green Bay.

If the Lions can win at least four of their next five, they’ll be 9-8 with a shot depending on what other teams do.

The Lions own tiebreakers over the Commanders and Giants (the tie between those two teams on Sunday was hurtful for the Lions) by virtue of head-to-head wins, but don’t over the Seahawks (that loss at Ford Field in Week 4 has proven to really be costly) and Cowboys.

In the last month, this is a rare instance where Lions fans can be excited for BOTH playoff and draft possibilities, given they own the Rams’ first-round selection that might end up being a top-3 pick.

Sizing up TCU’s strengths

Michigan is rightfully a heavy favorite already against TCU, and if the Wolverines continue to play mistake-free football as they have all year, they should prevail in the first College Football Playoff semifinal.

But TCU is here for a reason and can present some problems. Here are its big strengths.

  • Prolific offense. The Horned Frogs were the best offense in a Big 12 known for offense, not defense. Quarterback Max Duggan is a dual-threat player who was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and he willed his team to comeback wins all year. Running back Kendre Miller has rushed for 1,342 yards and 17 touchdowns, while wideout Quentin Johnson is a likely first-round NFL Draft pick.
  • Speed, playmakers in the secondary. The Wolverines will likely have to do what they have all year and ride out their dominant run game, because TCU could be the best secondary the Wolverines have faced. Cornerbacks Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Josh Newton were first-team All-Big 12, while juniors Mark Perry and Abe Camara are playmaking safeties.
  • Good special teams. Kicker Griffin Kell and returner Derious Davis were each named first-team All-Big 12.

Ferris State earns payback against Grand Valley, advances to DII quarterfinals

Defending Division II national champion Ferris State showed why it is champion, earning revenge for its only regular season loss by winning at Grand Valley State in a quarterfinal game on Saturday, 24-21.

The Bulldogs scored 10 points in the final 5:48, the last three being an 18-yard field goal with 1:04 remaining by Eddie Jewett, to advance to the semifinals.

Even better for Ferris State is that it will get to play that round at home. The opponent will be West Florida, which will visit Big Rapids for a noon kickoff on Saturday for the right to advance to the national championship game.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.