Sunday, November 18, 2018

This Week In Football

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

The end of an era took place last weekend in My Hometown of Farmington Hills, MI.

Farmington Hills Harrison High School will close down after this year. The only coach in their 49-year history John Herrington won't be roaming the sidelines in 2019.

Chelsea won the Division 4 Regional Final 21-14 and ended the Hawks last ever football season.

Herrington finishes with 443 career victories, most in MHSAA annals and 13 State Titles! You talk about the molding of kids into men, Herrington is a legend in every sense of the word!

Hope you have a great retirement coach because you deserve it! My only regret is I never had a chance to meet you.

But for all we know, who is to say that Herrington won't land at another school either on the sidelines or in another role. Stay tuned!

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New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has been fined $30 K for using a cell phone while celebrating a TD against the LA Rams. The celebration was a tribute to Saints icon Joe Horn, who famously whipped out a cell phone after scoring a TD in 2003.

Horn was also fined $30 K. I'm surprised the fine wasn't more due to inflation attributing to bigger salaries. But there is no doubt that Thomas probably has a good accountant and will make good use of  the tax write off.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Le'Veon Bell running back kept his word and has decided to sit out the entire 2018 regular season. Bell is seeking a contract in free agency of $17 Million per-season and $45 Million Guaranteed. Sacrificing the season means that Bell's body won't have any wear and tear on it. It wouldn't have been worth it to play a handful of games late in the season.

The Saints signed free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant and it took him just two practices to land on injured reserve as he tore his Achilles Tendon which will take eight months of rehabilitation. What worked against Bryant is he wasn't in football shape. But the silver lining in all of this is the Saints are willing to bring him back as long as he recovers, plus Dez wants to return to New Orleans.

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Finally, the Miami Dolphins were fined $30 K and head coach Adam Gase was fined $15 K for the handling of QB Ryan Tannehill on the Week 6 injury report.

Tannehill was listed as a full participant on Thursday of Week 6 despite missing reps because of a shoulder injury. He should have been listed as a limited participant.

As it turned out, Tannehill was a game day scratch against the Chicago Bears. The 30-year old hasn't played since.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com. He his a member of Detroit Sports Media and hosts The Sports Exchange on weinetwork.com on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 pm. He's also the CEO of The South Florida Tribune.

Lions Brandon Powell, Sunshine State Underdog

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

When you look at powerful High School Football Programs in Michigan, the three that come to mind are Birmingham Brother Rice, Detroit De La Salle and Farmington Hills Harrison.

I just heard that Harrison's 49-year run, all under legendary Coach John Herrington, has come to an end as the school won't be in existence next year.

In South Florida, one of the biggest High School Football Programs is the Deerfield Beach Bucks in my backyard.

The Michigan Wolverines know this school well as former QB Denard Robinson, 28, played here.

Robinson went on to play three years as a running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-2016.

Another prominent Buck which made Deerfield Beach High School proud is Jason Pierre-Paul.

Paul, 29, played for the New York Giants from 2010-2017.

He's currently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Paul has won a Super Bowl and also has two Pro-Bowls on his resume. To date, he has 68 sacks.

The latest Deerfield Beach Buck in the NFL plays his home games at Ford Field.  His name is Brandon Powell, 23, who was signed as an undrafted free agent from the Florida Gators.

Scouting and player personnel staffs are not only graded on the players they draft, but whom they sign as undrafted free agents.

Do the Lions have a hidden gem on their roster?

Time will tell how many teams will regret that they should have snapped up Powell, who has a chip on his shoulder looking to prove his doubters wrong.

When the Detroit Lions came to Miami to face the Dolphins on October 21, I had an opportunity to spend time with Powell, who is 5'8" and 181 lbs.

Another former Lion wide receiver who had the same initials B.P.is Brett Perriman.

Perriman played his college ball in the state of Florida with the Miami Hurricanes.

When I asked Powell if he had ever heard of Perriman, he politely nodded his head and said no.

He came across to me as a level headed and blue collar young man.

Here is what he had to say after the Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 at Joe Robbie Stadium.

Q:Tell me about your road to the NFL?

A: It was a long, long road and I still have a long ways to go. I'm still learning a lot from a great group of guys in the receivers room. I'm just happy to be here and living a dream since I was a kid.

Q: Being an undrafted free agent like you were, your road wasn't the easiest and conventional to get to the NFL. How much more of an effort did you put into it to make this happen?

A: I did but I always work hard and I knew I'd get a shot somewhere. Once I got here, I just had to make sure that I took full advantage of my opportunity, and every opportunity I had. I have a great group of guys who were willing to teach me everything from day one since I got here.

It's great with this group of receivers that show me the way and I just continue to work and made the team.

Q: When you played in the Tampa August pre-season game under adverse weather conditions, can you recollect about what was a critical contest to make your last push to make the squad? Obviously, your big highlight was an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown.

A: I take everyday as an interview and try to do my best every single time. It was good to be back in Florida at home to have a game like that to score a TD in front of my family. It was a good opportunity for me.  I was thankful for the opportunity the Detroit Lions gave me to play in my hometown to play in my first NFL game.

Q: Tell me what it was like to play in Deerfield Beach High School? I know they're a powerhouse in Broward County.

A: It's the best high school. There are a lot of great players which have played there like Denard Robinson and Jason Pierre Paul. It's a great high school and I wish I had time to come back there and watch them. But I have to handle some business right now. It's the best high school in South Florida to me.

Q: How much did it cost you to get tickets for your family and friends to attend the Lions vs Dolphins?

A: My family are Dolphins fans and they were out tailgating. They didn't care about watching the game. They just wanted to be out here at my first NFL game in South Florida. I wish I could have played and they had to spend a lot of money to get them all in here. They were just happy to be here and tailgate. My grandma and everyone else was watching the game. It was fun.

Q: There have been no shortage of Florida Gators that have worn the Detroit Lions colors. Lomas Brown is a Lions legend and currently a Lions color analyst. Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor are also teammates of yours. Going back in the record books, there are a lot more former Gainesville residents that played in Metro Detroit. What is it like to be the latest Gator wearing a different color blue in the State of Michigan?

A: It's great and that shows you the Gators produce a lot of athletes. They put a lot of talent in the NFL. The Florida Gators are one of the top schools in the country and produce athletes.

Q: Tell me your thoughts about playing for the Detroit Lions, who own a deep history in the NFL?

A: It's great. I never thought of it because I was a Dolphins fan growing up. I never heard much about the Detroit Lions during the draft process coming up. Of course everybody knew who Barry Sanders was. I used to watch him in college because I went to college as a running back. I used to watch a lot of his video on You Tube. Just being here playing for the Detroit Lions and being here on this team is an honor.

Q: Tell me about the wide receivers who you like to pattern yourself around?

A: For me, I like and watch Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, who plays for the Dolphins. The Patriots run a similar offense as to what we ran in college that we now do in Detroit. So Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are two receivers I model a lot.

Q: What are your thoughts about catching passes from Matthew Stafford?

A: My first ever pass catch from him, he ripped my gloves. It's great to catch a pass from a QB like that. He's one of the great QB's in the NFL. It's an honor for me to be on the same field with him.

Q: Does being an Underdog inspire you considering what it took for you to get to the NFL?

A: To me, I've always been an Underdog.

I've never had the size that everybody wanted. My work ethic is what makes me, me.

Q: Finally, Is there any other thing that you want to add to the conversation?

A: I just want to work hard, learn from these guys and when the time comes just take advantage of it.

For whatever it's worth, it was interesting when Powell mentions Barry Sanders. Brandon went to school as a running back. Like Powell, Sanders is 5-8 and he weighed 200 pounds.

Meanwhile, Darren Sproles, 5-6, 185 pounds has been used on special teams in the kickoff and punt roles. Sproles has hybrid skills being used as a running back and a slot receiver. The true definition of being a hybrid player.

It will be interesting to see if the Lions coaching staff identifies whether Powell can be used in many ways in an effort to find a new playmaker.

Brandon is indeed an Underdog and playing in the Sunshine State along with the many players who have had NFL careers because they can play year round is why there is an abundance of talent down here.

I'll be curious to monitor the developments if Brandon Powell is another Hidden Gem.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com. He is a member of Detroit Sports Media and is Host of the Sports Exchange on weinetwork.com which can be heard on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 pm.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Paul Woods' NHL Perspectives

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

Whenever the Detroit Red Wings travel to Sunrise, FL., there are a lot of people that I look forward to seeing.

If you can find me three nicer beat writers to work with, speaking of Helene St. James, Dana Wakiji and Ted Kulfan, then do it.

Red Wings Radio Announcers Ken Kal and Paul Woods are truly great friends!

When the Red Wings came to face the Florida Panthers on October 20, I once again spent time with Woods.

During the first intermission, Paul and I took a different approach to this conversation in what turned out to be a 4-3 Red Wings victory, the teams' first of the season.

We decided to focus on the most interesting topics in the NHL.

An 82-game regular season in the NHL is brutal.

The grind becomes even tougher in the playoffs in what turns out to be a war of attrition when chasing the most difficult championship, and that's winning the Stanley Cup Trophy.



Here are some of Woods insights of the key storylines that will unfold this season.

Q: How important is it for the NHL to have all the Original Six Teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

A: I think it's important Scott. It's a good point especially with the history of it. The Red Wings have a rich history with Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov and the list goes on and on. It's neat to be a part of that.

I know when Detroit made it to the playoffs 25 consecutive years, and missed the last two, we don't like that feeling. We want to get back there as fast as we can.

Q: The Vegas Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season. Do you see any let down in their second campaign?

A: It was amazing. I didn't pick them to go that way. I kept looking at them and said, yeah a good start and this is a team that's running on adrenaline right now then the wheels will fall off sooner or later. But they never did.

They had former Panthers Coach Gerard Gallant, one of my former teammates, and I can't say enough good things about him. The way they played with intensity up and down the line-up was impressive. It was like "Us against the World" and lets just show them what we can do. It's an amazing story.

They've gotten off to a slow start (8-11-1) but that's going to change. They have some key players who are injured right now. I think they'll be a playoff team again in the Western Conference. General Manager George McPhee has done a fantastic job.

Q: Is Vegas the hunted and are they going to come down to earth, or are they Not going to come down to earth? I know they had an impressive 109 points in their expansion season. I have my doubts that they'll return to the playoffs.

A: We do differ on this one Scott and there is nothing wrong about that. I respect how long you've covered the sport. I really do expect Vegas to be in the playoff picture in the Western Conference and they'll do well when they get there.

Q: Finally, by the time we see each other again in the spring, Seattle could be the 32nd franchise in the NHL and this will balance the conferences out with an equal amount of teams. What are your thoughts about that?

A: This will be great. After what Vegas did, they'll expect the same thing in terms of higher expectations with better players available. I don't think they'll duplicate what was done last season. The general manager and coach they hire will be under a lot of pressure based on what Vegas accomplished last season.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com, is a member of Detroit Sports Media. He also hosts the Sports Exchange on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7 pm on the weinetwork.com.

Monday, November 12, 2018

We're Talking Baseball

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Are Joe Mauer and C.C. Sabathia future Hall of Famers and how much money will Bryce Harper earn during free agency?

These are the three individuals that we'll talk about in this story.



Minnesota Twins first baseman and catcher Joe Mauer retired Friday after 15 seasons. He played his entire career with the same team which is uncommon these days. His career is refreshing because he played for his hometown team.

Unfortunately for Mauer, his career was derailed by concussion issues.

Mauer, 35, was drafted No.1 overall in 2001.

He won an MVP in 2009, three batting titles, appeared in six All-Star Games, won five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves as a catcher and had a career slash line----.306 average, 2,123 hits, 143 HR's, 428 doubles, 923 RBIs in 1,858 games.

So the question remains is Mauer a future Hall of Famer?

I'd say he's borderline because his numbers are good but are they enough to give him a plaque in Cooperstown, NY?

The Baseball Writers Association of America could take his injury situation into consideration and if they ask what if he'd been healthy would his numbers be substantially higher?

Mauer never had any off the field issues and I understand he was polite to the media.

But what do you fans think?

Please send me your comments and I'll mention them on The Sports Exchange (an Internet Radio Sport Talk Show http://www.weinetwork.com/)  which runs Tuesday's and Thursdays from 5-7 pm.

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New York Yankees Pitcher C.C. Sabathia announced that he will retire after the 2019 season.

During his 19th campaign, he'll earn $8 Million from the Yankees in what will be his 11th season playing in the Bronx.

Sabathia's other stops include seven plus years with the Cleveland Indians and he was a rental for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008.

He won a Cy Young Award with the Indians.

Sabathia currently has a lifetime record of 246-153 with a 3.70 ERA.

He's the majors active leader in strikeouts with 2,986, walks 1,060, complete games 38 and innings pitched 3,470.

There are some milestones he's looking to reach during the upcoming season.

He's four wins away from 250.
He's 30 innings away from 3,500.
He's 14 strikeouts away from 3,000. He will be the 17th player to reach 3,000 strikeouts.

Sabathia also has 12 shutouts and has won a World Series with the Yankees.


What chance does Sabathia have to reach baseball immortality?

In an age of specialization, I would say he has an excellent chance.

Playing in the largest Media Market in the county referring to New York City will definitely enhance his chances considerably.

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Finally, where will Bryce Harper land in Free Agency?

After turning down a 10-year contract worth $300 Million to stay with the Washington Nationals, the question remains which teams would be paying the potential asking price of up to $400 Million that Super Agent Scott Boras could potentially ask for?

The only teams that I think could be possibilities would appear to be the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees or the LA Angels.

I don't think the Chicago Cubs would ante up the coin since they snapped their 108 championship drought, thus there is no desperation to make a big splash of this kind. In fact, I see the Cubs ultimately cutting payroll to stay below the luxury tax threshold.

Adding Harper to the Phillies would be an indication that Philadelphia is ready to win now and he'd sell a lot of tickets.

The Giants have an excellent history and San Francisco has treated their superstar players well. They've even endorsed the pseudo Home Run King Barry Bonds, who hit his HR's with Performance Enhancing Drugs.

It's hard to rule out the New York Yankees and pitchers would have nightmares if Harper was in the same line-up as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

The LA Angels would be my dark horse if he's paired with Mike Trout in the lineup.

If teams decided the asking price was too steep, and the market dried up, then I could see the Nationals bringing Harper back to Washington.

Washington had a chance to land Yasiel Puig in a trade with the LA Dodgers but now it's inevitable they'll get nothing.

It's important to note that Harper has never played in a full season nor has he won a playoff series.

The most games Harper has played in a season is 159, at bats are 550, his career batting average is .279, has 184 HRs and 521 RBIs.

Judge for yourself and let me know on the Sports Exchange.

I wouldn't pony up that amount of coin based on seven years worth of work.

Despite being 26-years old, that seems to be too high of a risk for me.

Yet, there is always an owner that would take on such an investment.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

He's a member of Detroit Sports Media and is host of the Sports Exchange which can be heard on weinetwork.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Job Security?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What have you done for me lately?

During the past week, three coaches found this out in what is indeed a cut throat
industry.

In the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks fired their 60-year old head coach Joel Quenneville, a native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Quenneville coached the Windy City squad for 10 seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

At the time of his dismissal, Quenneville was 6-6-3, but was 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, two points out of the Wild Card Spot in the Western Conference.

He was replaced by 33-year old Jeremy Collins, who is now the youngest coach in the NHL.

Quenneville turned the Blackhawks into a dynasty after being hired in 2008, winning the three titles from 2010-2015. He won three Central Division Titles along with a Presidents Trophy in 2013.

His overall mark for Chicago was 446-243-93.

But don't feel sorry for Joel because he can still feed his family. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2016. He's owed the remainder of this years salary and will pocket another $6 Million next season.

In 1,636 games coached, he's won 890, lost 532, has 77 ties and 137 overtime losses.

There is no doubt that he can afford to be patient and selective of his next opportunity as his services will be in high demand.

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Now we turn our attention to the North Side of Chicago where the Cubs reside.

Manager Joe Maddon has one-year left on his contract that runs through the end of 2019.

President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has tabled talks for an extension until late next season or afterwards.

The 64-year old skipper has guided the Cubs to a combined 387-261 mark, been to the playoffs all four years he's been at the helm and famously ended a 108-year World Series Drought. He won The Fall Classic in 2016, his second year with the team.

The 2018 Wild Card Game loss to the Colorado Rockies last month marked the Cubs shortest post-season stint in Maddon's tenure.

I'll be curious over the course of the next year as to what roster moves are made and will the Cubs cut down on payroll, thus determining what talent he'll have to work with.

To Maddon's credit, if he can win with the low-budget Tampa Bay Rays, he can succeed anywhere under any circumstances.

If he ever becomes unemployed, he won't be out of work long.

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Finally, the next championship pink slip comes from North Of The Border in the Canadian Football League.

The CFL's Toronto Argonauts fired head coach Marc Trestman---one year after a Grey Cup victory.

Trestman was hired as the Argonauts 43rd head coach in February of 2017 and went on to lead them to a thrilling 27-24 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa after a 9-9 regular season.

The 2018 season saw Toronto slide to 4-14 and the 62-year old Minneapolis, MN., native is out of work.

In the CFL, Trestman won two Grey Cups with Montreal and another with Toronto giving him three.

I'll be curious where Trestman will land next, North or South of The Border.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com and is a member of Detroit Sports Media. He is also the Host for the Sports Exchange on weinetwork.com.

Motown Vs South Beach

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

If you're looking for a weekend getaway in the sun and get away from the cooler weather in Metro Detroit, this was the time to schedule it.

On Saturday Night October 20, 2018, the Detroit Red Wings traveled to Sunrise, FL to face the Florida Panthers at 7 pm.

Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium at 1 pm, the Detroit Lions made it's every eight-year visit to face the Miami Dolphins.

This past spring, there was a similar situation which took place.

The Detroit Pistons faced the Miami Heat on a Saturday Night, while the Tigers played the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach on Sunday.

Due to medical issues, I was limited to one contest and elected to see the Tigers game. This would be the latest Spring Training venue that we saw and that stadium was dynamite.

The common denominator with all these games is that it's nice to be able to sleep in my own bed during these occasions.

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The Red Wings entered their contest with the Florida Panthers as the only winless team in the NHL with a 0-5-2 mark with two points.

Detroit was playing a Panthers club that was also struggling with a 1-2-2 record with four points.

The Red Wings always seem to play well at the BB&T Center.

Detroit's record against the Panthers was 7-10-2-4.

There was no shortages of chants that said "Let's Go Red Wings."

As we were leaving the game, I saw a Red Wings fan wear a Harold Snepsts white jersey.

How many millennials remember this guy?

After the first period, it looked like the Red Wings were destined for yet another loss spotting the Panthers a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period

But Detroit woke up in the second period scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead.

Florida would score a later goal in the third period to tie the game at 3-3, but Detroit and goaltender Jimmy Howard showed resilience in overtime to come away with a 4-3 triumph.


As I went down to the Red Wings locker room, I saw GM Ken Holland, and he was the most relieved man in the building when I asked him how it felt to get that first win.

When the game was over, I spoke with Dennis Cholowski, who was playing in this arena for the first time, about his thoughts about playing in front of the Metro Detroit transplants.

"It's pretty darn cool and we have a loyal fan base," Cholowski said. "They follow us everywhere through thick and thin. So it's pretty cool to see that."

Cholowski said he was relieved to see the team get that first win out of the way.

"For sure, we were yearning for it and we've wanted it for awhile now. Thankfully, we got the first one out of the way."

Coach Jeff Blashill said getting a win anywhere would have been important but also chimed in on Detroit's home away from home.

"We're fortunate we got lots of Red Wings fans throughout the country," Blashill said. "Certainly, whenever we come here there is a good number of red and white so that's a great thing. We play pretty good in this building and I thought certainly parts of tonight was real good."

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Through the years, I've covered the Lions many times on the road.

But the place which is No.1 on my list is when they face the Miami Dolphins.

When I first became a sports writer, the Miami Dolphins were the first team that I covered working with the legendary Don Shula.

Because I was young, I was a bit intimidated by him. But as I worked with him often, he used to joke around with me and I used to ask for words of wisdom, which he was great about giving me.

I covered the Dolphins when they played at the now demolished Orange Bowl.

I interviewed late Owner Joe Robbie, who built the current stadium which I've seen two Super Bowls along with Lions and Miami Hurricanes games.

I also saw a game when Nick Saban was the Dolphins coach and former Lions QB Joey Harrington faced the Green Bay Packers and legend Brett Favre.

Too many memories to document.

This brings us back to the South Florida/Detroit Showdown Weekend.

The Lions entered the Dolphins game with a 2-3 mark, while Miami is looking for its first 5-2 start since 2003.

The Dolphins are 5-2 in their past seven meeting with the Lions, but Detroit has won each of the past two, including a 34-27 win in the last meeting in South Florida on December 26, 2010.

Today's intrigue would focus on whether Lions Coach Matt Patricia, formerly of the New England Patriots, could use his divisional knowledge to gain a scouting advantage of the Dolphins enabling Detroit to climb to 3-3.

One area Patricia won't have as much knowledge about is Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler, as he will start instead of signal caller Ryan Tannehill, who is sidelined due to a shoulder injury.

On this day, Lions would defeat the Dolphins 32-21.

The Lions scored a touchdown on their first possession for the first time this season while snapping Miami's streak of 13 consecutive games without allowing an opening drive touchdown.

Detroit recorded 248 rushing yards as a team, the most since logging 249 yards vs Indianapolis on November 23, 1997.

Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson finished the day in career highs with 19 attempts for 158 yards (8.3 avg.). He added two receptions for 21 yards to finish with a career-most 179 yards from scrimmage. One of his runs was a 71-yard rush in the second quarter.

QB Matthew Stafford finished the day 18-of-22 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 138.1.

The Lions left South Beach feeling good about themselves by improving their record to 3-3.

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But how indeed the fortunes have changed for both squads.

After the Red Wings left South Florida they went on a two-game losing streak.

But in their last 10 games, Detroit is 7-3 and through 17 games, the Red Wings have improved their record to 7-8-2 with 16 points.

As for the Lions, they've lost three consecutive contests and are 3-6, as they reside in last place in the NFC North Division.

With their playoff hopes diminishing and a lost season, Coach Patricia finds himself with a lot of work to do to gain the confidence of a fan base that believes his hiring was a huge mistake.

Nonetheless, if you're a Detroit Sports Fan, who was in South Florida for the weekend, going 2-0 was money well spent.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com. He's a member of Detroit Sports Media and also hosts The Sports Exchange on the weinetwork.com.


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