Six Week 5 Storylines: Can the Lions Finally Win in Wisconsin?

Calvin Johnson is key in the Lions versus Packers game this weekend.

December 15th, 1991. It may seem like an inconsequential date to many, but to Lions’ fans, that day has meaning: It signifies the last time Detroit beat Green Bay in the state of Wisconsin.

Think about all you’ve done since late 1991 – I’m sure many of you weren’t even born. Since that time, we’ve seen pogs, the East Coast-West Cost hop hop rivalry, Sega Dreamcast, six Batman movies and a whole lot of football. Like, thousands of games worth of football.

The 2013 Lions are one of the best the city of Detroit has seen in years, and the Packers are coming off a bye week that followed a devastating loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Are we about to see the end of the streak?

Can the Lions finally win in Wisconsin?

22 straight games, folks. Twenty-freaking-two.

Calvin Johnson will be key in this game, as he’s completely manhandled the Packers the last three times these teams have met. With Reggie Bush having such an effective season – he ranks fourth in the league in rushing net expected points – expect the Packers to try to stop the Lions back, opening things up for Megatron.

On the flip side, Aaron Rodgers will look to bounce back from a poor game against Cincinnati in Week 3. The Lions rank 12th in the league against the pass though, says our numbers, so it’s not as though this matchup screams a monster game for Packers passer. We should expect good numbers because it’s Rodgers, but this is a better Lions secondary than in prior years.

Will the AFC North match the Browns?

The Browns sit at 3-2 after their Thursday night victory over the Bills, and now are ahead of both the Bengals and Ravens. And given that the Ravens play a three-win Dolphins team this week and the Bengals get an undefeated Patriots squad, there’s a chance the Browns actually stay alone at the top

The success for the Bengals and Ravens will come down to their quarterback play. Joe Flacco was horrible against the Bills last week, throwing five interceptions, and now has a passing net expected points total of just 4.23, a number lower than the majority of NFL starters. He’s played above expectation, but many signal-callers have this season.

Andy Dalton hasn’t been any better, sitting behind turnover-making Ben Roethlisberger in passing NEP. Dalton has been holding the Bengals offense back a bit, and will need to play his best football in order to beat the Patriots this weekend.

Can the Giants offense finally get things going against Philadelphia?

If you want a bold prediction this weekend, it’s that David Wilson finally gets it all together and becomes fantasy relevant again. Not only was Da’Rel Scott, a running back seeing opportunity at times over Wilson, released by the Giants this week, but the Eagles have allowed the 22nd-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, including three straight 100-yard performances.

The Eagles defense has been bottom-10 bad this year in terms of efficiency, but when you factor in the Chip Kelly offense, there’s more opportunity for offenses to see volume against them. That’s why Giants offensive players could be big in fantasy this week, and why they’ve got a chance to finally turn things around.

Will Andrew Luck succeed as a fantasy quarterback against the Seahawks?

I’ve mentioned before, but the Colts trading for Trent Richardson only reinforced the idea that they’re going to move with a balanced attack this season. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is no stranger to that, as this is what was to be expected entering 2013.

So far this season, Luck ranks 21st among quarterbacks in total passes (sacks included), but ranks eighth at the position in fantasy. Much of this has to do with his two rushing touchdowns though. From a passing perspective, he’s got two games with fewer than 200-yards passing, and has only thrown for five touchdowns.

I – we – worry about Luck against a Seattle defense that’s given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. He’s our 16th-ranked fake pigskin passer this week, behind players like Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford.

Are the Chiefs for real offensively?

The Chiefs story is a great one, and their defense has looked awesome through four games this year. It seems as though that side of the ball is here to stay, but is it possible that their offensive efficiency thus far has been due to favorable matchups?

In terms of defensive net expected points, a measure of defensive efficiency, the Chiefs opponents this season rank 30th (Philadelphia), 29th (Jacksonville), 25th (New York Giants) and 15th (Dallas). It’s not as though they’ve been tested, especially against a top-10 unit like Tennessee has.

We could see a low-scoring game in this one, especially when you consider Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting for the Titans.

Will the Raiders versus Chargers late, late game be the most important from a fantasy standpoint?

San Diego ranks dead last in our defensive net expected points metric, paving a path for an Oakland Raiders offensive explosion. And although the Raiders have performed like a middle-of-the-road defense, Philip Rivers’ has been outstanding, ranking as a top-five fantasy and efficient quarterback in the NFL through four weeks.

This game has the potential to be a high-scoring contest full of fantasy impact. Terrelle Pryor is a sneaky play coming off a concussion, and Rashad Jennings, who could be taking over for an injured Darren McFadden, is interesting too. If you’re into daily fantasy, it could be beneficial to target some of these cheaper assets in what should be a high-scoring game.