and with all of the Cheap Darius Slay Jr Jersey great discourse last week’s topic provided—not just from the Pride of Detroit staff, but you, the community here at POD as well—it’s back for a second week in a row!If you’re unfamiliar with our roundtable or how it works, check out some of our (relatively) recent discussions:Will Detroit sign Matthew Stafford to a contract extension before the start of 2017?How can the Lions win the NFC North in 2017?Who is the Lions least-replaceable player outside of Matthew Stafford?What are the expectations for Kenny Golladay in his rookie season?Will the Lions be positioned for the playoffs after Week 9?What is the most interesting camp battle in Detroit?Should the Lions’ 53-man roster carry 4 tight ends, or 5 wide receivers?Who is the most valuable draft pick of Bob Quinn’s tenure as Lions GM?Welcome to #BROCKTOBER, the most wonderful month of the year where the Miami Dolphins, led by Brock Osweiler, knocked off the NFC North leading Chicago Bears in an absolutely ridiculous overtime contest on Sunday. It had everything: Osweiler throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns, Khalil Mack and the Bears defense recording zero sacks, and Mitchell Trubisky getting handcuffed by Matt Nagy on the Bears final offensive drive of the game.The Minnesota Vikings had to scratch their starting running back, Dalvin Cook, from the lineup for their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, but it would be his backup, Latavius Murray, who stole the show and helped propel the Vikings to their third win of the season and the team’s second consecutive victory.The Green Bay Packers, desperate for a win, somehow escaped Monday night with one, despite trailing the entire second half to the 49ers. Aaron Rodgers managed to turn a seven-point deficit with three minutes left, into a three-point win... in regulation. With every team within a single game of one another, the NFC North seems to be as open as anyone could have ever imagined it to be before the season started. And as the Lions are coming off their bye week and heading to Miami for a matchup with the Dolphins, does it seem like the team is in a position to keep pace with the thick of the division, or fade back into obscurity?Are the Lions contenders or pretenders in the race for the NFC North crown?Jeremy Reisman: This is obviously a tough question to answer for a myriad of reasons, but it comes down to this for me: I don’t think the Lions are currently playing at a level that should warrant postseason consideration. However Cheap Matthew Stafford Jersey , this question is relative to the rest of the division, and there is not a team in the NFC North that isn’t inherently flawed right now. The Vikings can’t protect Kirk Cousins. The Packers still have a ways to go defensively. The Bears don’t trust their own quarterback yet. And the Lions have a really bad defense. All four teams are contenders for the NFC North, but I would call all of them pretenders for the NFC crown. John Whiticar: I think that the division race will come down to the final few weeks of the season, as it seems to always happen. There’s no clear front-runner for the division at the moment; Chicago was the best looking team prior to last week, then they decided that they couldn’t cover Albert Wilson screen plays. With a mediocre quarterback—yes, Mitchell Trubisky threw for three touchdowns, but one was a shovel pass and one was due to a broken defense—I can’t see them winning the division without an elite defense.Kent Lee Platte: In theory, all four teams in the NFCN are in play to win the division or come in last place, with only a game or two separating everybody. In reality, it's very clear that the Lions would need to improve dramatically for them to be considered a true contender. Their issues on defense are still far too prominent to not be a worry, while their issues on offense, outside of the Packers game, are concerning.Ryan Mathews: The Lions are phonies, a bunch of big fat phonies.But in all seriousness, this week’s matchup against the Dolphins in Miami is going to be a pretty good measuring stick for the team. Detroit has yet to win a game on the road this season, and Miami has been a pretty good team at home as of late. If there’s something that’s going to keep me from saying the Lions are contenders, it’s their defense. But we’re all pretty familiar with the narrative of Matt Patricia’s defenses in New England, and how it took time for them to gel over the course of the season, so maybe there’s some hope for this defense as the calendar turns—and hope is the thing with feathers.Jeremy: I’m ashamed to admit I knew that was a “Family Guy” reference without clicking the link, but at least it was back when the show wasn’t a parody of itself. As for the Lions defense, that’s really the key to everything. As much as I want to believe the “Matt Patricia will eventually fix everything” talking point, I just don’t think the Lions have the personnel to do it, even if we’ve seen guys like Romeo Okwara and Devon Kennard bud under his system. I need to see them hold a single team under 4.7 yards per carry before I believe. John: Another thing we need to consider is the pass rush. You mentioned Okwara and Kennard http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-graham-glasgow-jersey , and coupled with Eli Harold, they’ve accounted for 11 sacks. From a pure stat perspective, this is good. However, a lot of these have been coverage sacks. That’s a positive for the secondary, but a negative for the defensive line. They’re giving too much time to opposing quarterbacks. Given the injuries and inconsistencies in the secondary, we can’t rely on them alone to shut down offenses.Kent: You mention the secondary and coverage sacks, but one thing to consider in that regard is that the Lions have been productive despite a poor pass rush and their secondary has been disruptive despite individually having a group prone to error. Darius Slay had his worst game in years against the Packers but the Lions defense gave Aaron Rodgers fits due to a strong game plan and good enough execution. That speaks to a coaching group that may be improving, and I can't be the only one that's noticed Jim Bob Cooter creating more and more dynamic plays from different alignments, something he's struggled with in the past. The Patriots defense was known to start the year slowly under Matt Patricia, but maybe that's just indicative of a philosophy that's more ingrained in him generally. That could mean this slow start to the season was just that, a slow start, and that their best football is still coming. Imagine beating Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers being a warm up.Mike: In my opinion, this team will go as far as its offense takes them. and right now they’re primed to go far if they can keep up what they've been doing. Stafford has been one of the best and most accurate quarterbacks since Week 2, Kerryon has been one of the better running backs in the league, and these receivers—Kenny Golladay, especially—are getting into the swing of things after slow start. Lastly, the offensive line is actually performing. It’s really happening. guys. All this, and I still feel like they haven’t played their best football yet. This team is for real. Way back in August of 2000, I was just a innocent freshmen in high school that still played with action figures in my room. Who needs friends and a girlfriend when I can put on my own Wrestlemania in the privacy of my room while I listen to Ludacris? Not to mention, if a girl talked to me in 2000, I would stutter, turn red and nearly pass out. Anyways, I had no idea the heartache I was about to feel. The Detroit Pistons had decided to trade Grant Hill to the Orlando Magic. You have to understand Youth Darius Slay Jr Jersey , throughout my childhood, my bedroom was covered with posters and plaques that featured Grant. I had multiple jerseys and tons of trading cards featuring him. We had a superstar on our basketball team. It was great. When he left, it felt like I had lost a part of my childhood and was forced to understand that sports is a business that often throws loyalty and fan appreciation by the wayside. This is how I felt again on Tuesday when the Lions traded Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles. It feels like we’ve been dumped or just got fired. It feels like we’ve lost a part for the city that felt like a perfect fit for us. Because I felt devastated, I skipped out on writing my weekly Wednesday column. I just felt like whatever I wrote on Tuesday night would have been emotionally charged and would have read like a spiteful ex-boyfriend. This was probably the best thing I could have done because it gave me time to really think about this trade, this franchise and the direction that everything appears to be going in. What I come away with is not what the status quo has been so far. I don’t think the Lions are giving up on the season. Frankly, I don’t think there are a lot of teams in sports that decide to call it quits at any point. Even the teams that are eliminated from playoff contention are often trying to play spoiler or just put something together for the next season’s morale. With that said, the other narrative that’s floating around—the Lions being all-in on 2019—is one that I can completely get behind, and Lions fans should to. I know nobody wants to hear it, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. This probably needed to happen. The Lions probably weren't going to be able to keep Tate. It just didn’t look like something that was in the cards. Really ask yourself why Tate hadn’t been extended, when the Lions had the money to make that move. Should they have extended him, though? The Athletic’s Chris Burke went out and figured out what Tate will likely get when he hits free agency this offseason. The number is pretty big. According to Spotrac, the Lions will have just over $41 million to spend in the offseason. They could afford that if they wanted to, but offense isn’t going to be their bag this summer. And as much as I love Tate, and I really do, that’s a lot for a receiver that’ll be turning 31 soon. Someone will pay it, and it’ll probably be another NFC North team, because obviously. That cap number is only going to get bigger too. The cap will rise as it does every year and the Lions will be facing more difficult personnel decisions. They’re going to be big players in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. Don’t be surprised to see them aggressively go after guys like DeMarcus Lawrence or Tyrann Mathieu to fix this defense. Add all that defensive help that they’ll scoop up in the draft and free agency to an offense that’s already performing pretty dang well, and you have what could potentially be a really scary team. This is why the Tate trade matters. It opens up that high draft pick and it saves the team money. But what about 2018? Are the Lions really packing it up in Week 9 when they’re just one game back from leading the division? I don’t think so. This team is still able to compete. They still have an improving defense that just grabbed an elite level defensive tackle. They’re still going to allow a lot of points, but they’re improving. The Lions also still have a great offense full of weapons. Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay still play for this team. And in theory, Theo Riddick can play that Golden Tate role for the Lions when he’s healthy. They also have a rookie running back that just one week ago placed himself in the Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion with a huge game against Miami. Don’t forget that he played a significant role in the passing game against Seattle, too. Lastly, that offensive line is still performing out there. Golden will be hard to replace. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. He was the Lions’ best receiver this season. He’s been a consistent force in this offense since 2014, but it’s not impossible. It might actually change the Lions offense for the better. At least one analyst thinks things could happen that way. It should be interesting to see if the Lions do this sort of thing starting this weekend against the Vikings. They have a duo of receivers that’s more than capable of doing damage to opposing defenses. There’s a million questions behind those two. TJ Jones will obviously find himself getting a real chance to shine after being the low man on to the totem pole since the day he came to Detroit. But then what? Brandon Powell? Andy Jones? The Lions really need to keep everyone healthy. Even the Lions feel the same way. We were there on Wednesday and the team seems like they’re not planning to give up at all. Matt Patricia is certain that this team is no slouch. Here’s what he had to say. “We have a lot of guys that are really good on this team that can produce and Womens Michael Roberts Jersey , honestly, we have confidence in everybody that’s on this team right now, that everyone can go out and do their job. And I think we’ve seen through the course of multiple different examples of years in the NFL where these things happen and people move on and they keep going and they keep winning. Is it difficult to win in this league? 100 percent it is, every single week is hard. So we’re just going to have to work harder.”Detroit is about to enter the abyss of the season starting this week. The next five games are going to be a real test. They have the Vikings on Sunday, the Bears twice, the Panthers and the undefeated Rams. At least three of those games are at home. We’re going to find out really quick as fans if it’s time to start looking at mock drafts or if this team is way better than we thought. I predicted this team to be a playoff team this year, and I still stand by that even after the Tate trade. At this point, the universe just won’t let the Lions fail. There are not a lot of 3-4 teams out there that are a win and three rival losses away from swinging all the way up to first place. The NFL schedule will continue to help them too. The Vikings still have to play the Bears, Packers, Patriots and Seahawks. The Packers still have to play the Patriots, Seahawks, Vikings, Bears and Falcons. Lastly, the Bears still play the Lions twice, the Vikings twice, the Packers and the Rams. Lions fans are looking at their schedule worried, but I would bet the rest of the division is doing the same, too. Right now, this division looks like it’s gone from the best in football to the NFC South circa 2014 when the 7-8-1 Panthers won the division crown and went to the playoffs. All I’m saying is that the Lions may be expertly building for tomorrow, but they’re still able to win today. And this thing is far from over.