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Detroit Lions come roaring back into thick of NFC North

Coming out of their bye week, the Detroit Lions clinch a road victory in Miami to enter the middle of the pack in a competitive NFC North.

A 71-yard scamper highlights the Detroit Lions successful day on the ground against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Grabbing the victory solidified the Lions in the middle of the NFC North, a division muddied with a tie and three teams with three victories.

The Minnesota Vikings currently lead the division with four wins, but nobody is running away with the NFC North just yet. For the Lions, running away from the defense has balanced the offense and made life harder for any team to defend them. With five divisional games left – three of them being hosted in Detroit – the odds are in the Lions favor to make some noise in the standings.

Other than having a positive outlook in the division, there’s also a positive outlook in the Lions offense. Quarterback Matthew Stafford still has the ability to throw the ball all over the field, but with two new running backs in town, he doesn’t have to.

This has led to a great five-game stretch for Stafford. He’s recorded passer ratings of 101.7 or better in those games and has come up with 11 touchdowns versus one interception during that stretch. He’s not necessarily lighting up the stat sheet, but he hasn’t needed to for the team to get the win.

The main reason for Stafford averaging 200 passing yards in the past two games is the emergence of a running game. Running back Kerryon Johnson certainly carried the load on Sunday with 158 yards on the ground while others chipped in with 90 yards for a whopping total of 248 rushing yards.

Johnson now has 444 yards on the season, good enough for 8th most in the league. His presence is better than any other running back in the NFL North as none of the other teams in the division have a rusher in the top 20 in yards gained. Yet another reason why the Lions are in a great position in their division.

Somewhat surprising is the Detroit Lions receivers and where they stack up in yards gained. Or, maybe it’s not so surprising when you consider the team is fielding one of the best trios of pass catchers. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay – not one of them is hogging the yardage for the Lions.

This is also a great sign. It means Stafford is spreading the ball around and finding the open man. It’s much harder for defenses to cover everyone instead of focusing on shutting down one player. Tate and Golladay check in at 24 and 25 on the total receiving yards gained list, just a yard and three yards behind Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs.

Next: 3 reasons the Lions are peaking at the right time

The Detroit Lions have a quarterback consistently hitting triple digits in passer rating, a running back posting 100-yard games and a three-headed monster at wide receiver. Everything is adding up to a balanced Lions offense that is roaring and ready to make some noise in the competitive NFC North.

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