There is a lot to like about how the Detroit Lions are playing right now. They've won four of their last five games and are coming off their most dominating performance in years, a 40-14 drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field this past Sunday.
Detroit now begins their preparations for Sunday's NFC North showdown with Minnesota, who can clinch the division title with a win over the second-place Lions at Ford Field.
Looking over the last five games, and the season as a whole, here are five numbers that should excite Lions fans as we head down the home stretch of the regular season:
1. Number: 41
What it means: Lions second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has 41 receptions over Detroit's last five games.
NFL rank: Tied 1st
Twentyman: St. Brown's 41 receptions are tied with Las Vegas wide receiver Davante Adams over the last five-week stretch from Weeks 9-13. Adams has needed 67 targets to get those 41 receptions, while St. Brown has needed just 50. It's no wonder Lions quarterback Jared Goff has so much confidence throwing St. Brown's way. St. Brown's 501 scrimmage yards over that same stretch are the fourth most in the NFL.
2. Number: 66.82
What it means: Opposing quarterback passer rating when blitzed by Lions' defense
NFL rank: 1st
Twentyman: The Lions are a heavy blitz team under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. They blitz 28.6 percent of the time, according to Pro Football reference statistics, which is the seventh highest percentage in the NFL. It's one thing to blitz a lot, but the key is picking the right times and being successful when doing it.
Opponents are just 72-of-125 passing with three touchdowns, five interceptions and have been sacked seven times when throwing against the Lions blitz. Just to show how successful the Lions have been here: Washington is second best in this category allowing a 75.8 passer rating when blitzed. The league average is 96.48.
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What it means: Detroit's red zone touchdown efficiency percentage
NFL rank: 1st
Twentyman: The Lions have reached the red zone 46 times in 12 games and have scored a touchdown 34 times. It's a who's who of offensive juggernauts right behind the Lions in this category. Philadelphia (73.8), Dallas (73.0), Cincinnati (66.7), Kansas City (66.0) and Miami (62.5) all trail the Lions. The league average is 56.3 percent.
Give a lot of credit to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. He has a creative mind and a good feel for calling plays in the red zone. Credit the players on the execution.
4. Number: 142
What it means: The Lions have scored 142 points (28.4 per game) over the last five weeks.
NFL rank: 2nd
Twentyman: Only Dallas (150) has scored more points than the Lions from Weeks 9-13. Equally as important is the fact that Detroit's only allowed 99 points (19.8 per game) over that same stretch, which is the 10th fewest in the league.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell talks often about playing complementary football, and that's exactly what this team has done over the last five weeks.
5. Number: 21
What it means: Detroit has found themselves in 1st and goal drives inside the opponent 5-yard line 21 times this season.
NFL rank: Tied 1st
Twentyman: Detroit and Kansas City are tied atop the league with 21 such opportunities at a first and goal inside the opposing 5-yard line. The Lions have scored a touchdown in those situations an astonishing 20-of-21 times for a 95.2 touchdown percentage. Making sure the ball ends up in the end zone instead of a chip-shot field goal can be crucial to winning and losing. The Chiefs have converted 17 of their 21 attempts.
Veteran running back Jamaal Williams has been a big catalyst for that success. He's about as automatic as it comes getting into the end zone in those situations.