The Detroit Lions travel to the Music City on Sunday to on take the Tennessee Titans in a game that—other than being on the Titans home turf—is about as imbalanced as you can get on the NFL’s Week 3 schedule.
The Lions were barely able to squeak out a 27-23 win against the St. Louis Rams in Week 1 at home and didn’t crack the 20-point mark on the road against the San Francisco 49ers in last week’s 27-19 loss.
However, Detroit still features one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combos in the league in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. And not many teams have been able to slow down this tandem over the last couple of seasons.
The Titans are a team with no answers right now. Running back Chris Johnson has yet to get going this season and top receiving target Kenny Britt is still finding his way back from an injured knee.
Tennessee’s defense is another story, giving up 403 yards per game over the season’s first two games. While a lot of that is on the ground, there shouldn’t be much holding the Lions back from doing what they do best: passing the ball.
Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday’s contest:
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson Hook Up for 2 Touchdowns
Stafford and Johnson are off to a slow start in comparison to their stellar 2011 seasons. While part of that could be due to playing a feisty Rams defense and a 49ers unit that gives up next-to-nothing, the Lions stars have been disappointments so far in 2012.
No one expects the slump to go on too much longer for either player, but it might have more to do with the Lions not having much of a running game to keep defenses off balance.
Regardless of talent, if the opposition only has to scheme against one particular player or one phase of the game, they reduce the advantage greatly.
However, drawing a feeble Titans defense in Week 3 could go a long way toward curing their ills. And the quarterback-wide receiver tandem should have a huge game on Sunday.
Chris Johnson Continues to Struggle; Fails to Surpass 40 Rushing Yards in Blowout Loss
Dating back to his holdout last season, Chris Johnson just hasn’t been the same running back that earned him the nickname CJ2K when he rushed for 2,006 yards during the 2009 season.
While there is much speculation as to why such a large drop-off (poor offensive line, not enough opportunities or Johnson simply fading after cashing in), his 21 yards on 19 carries is flat out intolerable as a starting running back in the NFL; especially with an ego the size of his.
Both of Tennessee’s opponents this season (New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers) have been solid against the run, but the Titans might never be in the position to get Johnson in a groove on Sunday if the Lions jump out to an early lead.