The Detroit Lions are a bit of a head scratcher this year. There aren’t too many other teams that have received as much national attention. Their 5-0 start took the league by storm, but they’ve lost their last two.
To get a better feel for the Lions, I asked Zac Snyder of Side Lion Report, some questions about the team that he writes about on a daily basis. There’s no better Lions site out there than his, so be sure to check it out prior to Sunday’s game.
With that said, let’s go Inside the Villain’s Venue with Side Lion Report.
The Lions won their first five, but dropped their last two. Why the decline in performance? Is there concern that the Lions are fading as the season goes on?
The 49ers and Falcons followed the same script in defeating the Lions. Both were able to disrupt the Lions offense with heavy pressure and broke a couple big plays offensively.
The Lions aren’t a strong running team and pressuring Matthew Stafford has proven effective in limiting his completion percentage and big play potential. Calvin Johnson is still getting his stats but the Lions aren’t receiving the contributions they thought they would get from Nate Burleson and Titus Young. On defense, the Lions have been pretty solid down to down but get burned with big plays that make their overall numbers less impressive.
There are two former Broncos on the Lions roster with Tony Scheffler and Alphonso Smith now wearing blue. Talk about what they’ve meant to the Lions.
Scheffler hasn’t had as big of a role as a lot of people probably thought he would have when the trade was made but he is counted on as one of the weapons in the Lions offense. He has just six catches this year but two were for touchdowns and he missed the game against the 49ers due to a concussion. I’m sure he’d like to have more opportunities but he hasn’t been vocal about it.
Alphonso Smith played some really solid football for the Lions defense through the middle part of last year but struggled down the stretch. He dealt with a foot injury in training camp and hasn’t been a factor in the Lions’ cornerback rotation since returning. Still, he is solid depth considering the Lions traded away a tight end they were going to cut to get Smith.
The Lions are ranked 6th in total points and 7th in points allowed. Just how does a team stop the Lions?
A heavy pass rush is proving to be an effective way of slowing the Lions offense and the Lions defense is allowing some big plays on the ground. The Lions have also been susceptible in the past to a quick passing game – not the sort of thing that suits Tim Tebow’s skill set but it should be noted.
When you talk about the Lions you can’t mention them without talking about Ndamukong Suh. Why is he such a dominant force so early in his career?
Ndamukong Suh has a rare combination of physical and mental strength. Opposing offensive lineman already recognize Suh as one of the strongest opponents they’ve ever played against. The special thing about Suh is that he doesn’t want to just get by on his physical gifts. He has a relentless motor and is often making tackles down-field.
Who wins the one-on-one match up between Calvin Johnson and Champ Bailey?
Whether it be Champ Bailey or any other corner, the answer to this question is always Calvin Johnson. Defenses can slow CJ down by rolling coverage his way but it won’t happen with one-on-one coverage, just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Aqib Talib.
Finally, your prediction for Sunday’s game?
I don’t want to say this is a must-win for the Lions but if they lose this game they will likely be looking back at the end of the season and point to it as the reason things didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. The Lions are the better team and need to come out and play like it. Bad things will happen by letting Tim Tebow and the Broncos hang around in the game longer than they should. I expect the Lions to come out fired up, especially defensively, and make things very difficult for the Broncos. Denver might make it interesting late but the Lions will win comfortably, 27-17.