6 Bold Predictions for Detroit Lions' Week 6 Matchup
So I'll step it up a notch and find a few hidden gems to placate the masses.
In order for something to be a bold prediction, it has to be a bit off of the map. Saying quarterback Matthew Stafford is going to throw for 300 yards wouldn't really surprise anybody. He always does that.
And no. None of these predictions will address All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson's status for Sunday. I'm not a doctor, and head coach Jim Schwartz guards injury information like a kid hides the last puzzle piece only to appear for the final moment of glory.
So click through to find out what unforeseen events are sure to unfold this Sunday.
Matthew Stafford Will Throw Two Touchdown Passes
First, let's get the bold part out of the way.
The Cleveland Browns have allowed two touchdowns passes all season. Therefore, throwing for two touchdowns in one game when five quarterbacks have combined for only two over five games is impressive.
So how is Stafford going to do it?
Not by throwing it up for Johnson repeatedly hoping he can make a few miraculous catches. He'll get it done by accurately getting the ball to the open man so he can pick up yards after the catch.
Much like Nate Burleson's big game against the Washington Redskins, Ryan Broyles will finally find room to operate while Joe Haden and likely a safety worry about keeping the aforementioned Johnson under wraps. And that will keep the chains moving.
Once the Lions find themselves in the red zone, Johnson will probably see a fade attempt or two, but it's more likely you'll see tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria make their large presences known. Fauria has already proved his red-zone worthiness, and Pettigrew is just starting to get his confidence rolling after playing a featured role in last week's contest.
Ryan Broyles Will Hit His Groove for 80-Plus Yards and a Score
General manager Martin Mayhew has scorched the earth in search of a competent receiver to pair with Johnson. So now that he has him, why aren't the Lions getting Broyles the ball?
It's a legitimate question.
Last week, the Lions went to Kris Durham eight times, and he caught three for 30 yards. Broyles hauled in both of his targets for 27 yards.
I guarantee that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Stafford are well aware of those stats. They will devise ways to get the ball into Broyles' hands so he can be the difference-maker he was intended to be.
The probability of this prediction doesn't alter if Johnson plays. He'll either benefit from the coverage concerns Megatron creates, or Linehan will be in Stafford's ear, telling him to past his college buddy Durham and get the rock to Broyles.
Detroit's Defensive Tackles Will Rack Up at Least Three Sacks
The famed defensive-tackle duo for the Lions has set the tone for the team all season. Considering Detroit's poor performance against the Packers, it shouldn't surprise you that Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley combined for a grand total of one quarterback hurry.
Oh, and no hits. And certainly no sacks.
But the penetrating pair will get back on track in Cleveland to the tune of three sacks, if not more.
The Browns employ Alex Mack at center, a worthy adversary for any defensive front. However, if guards John Greco and Shawn Lauvao's play is any indication, they won't be nearly as sturdy against a motivated defensive front.
Suh and Fairley are fiery personalities that will take offense to their poor performance. With defensive end Willie Young creating outside heat against the overmatched Mitchell Schwartz, Brandon Weeden won't be able to escape the monsters in the middle.
Bill Bentley Will Notch His First Career Interception
There was a lot of preseason hype surrounding second-year cornerback Bill Bentley. He's been inconsistent, but last week was a positive sign.
Bentley is the nickel corner, and he usually plays the slot man. He found himself matched up against Randall Cobb a decent number of times, and he only allowed one catch for a single yard on three targets.
That's impressive against any player. Against Cobb, it's a miracle.
The instincts are starting to kick in for the young defensive back. Assuming the prior bold prediction keeps Weeden out of his comfort zone and throwing hurried passes, Bentley will be in the perfect position to step in front of an ill-advised bail-out throw.
The Defense Will Hold the Browns to Less Than 50 Yards Rushing
The Browns are having all kinds of trouble running the ball this season. So, naturally, they exchanged their 2012 first-round running back for another first-rounder, who just happened to be selected in 2003.
That won't do much for a team's rushing stats.
Especially against a Lions defense that is deceptively good against the run. If you take away the three longest runs Detroit has allowed, the Lions are only allowing 85 yards per game.
And that just happens to be only six more than Cleveland's average.
To recap, we have a poor rushing offense against a solid rushing defense, meaning the matchup doesn't trend toward Cleveland's favor.
Lastly, those three removed runs above are credited to Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Randall Cobb. You can rest assured that Willis McGahee won't be matching their single-play efforts. That will leave the Browns in difficult third-down situations that will ultimately lead to more first- and second-down throws to loosen up the defense.
On a side note, I love the Trent Richardson trade. He wasn't performing at a first-round level, yet they still pilfered a first-rounder for him. Kudos.
The Offensive Line Will Bounce Back in a Big Way
Along with just about everybody else, the offensive line struggled last week to match its early season standard. However, even though the Browns have a top-10 defense, the Lions line will bounce back with a better effort this Sunday.
The Browns feature serious depth at the outside linebacker spot. Barkevious Mingo, Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard create a pass-rushing problem for even the best offensive lines.
The Lions unit isn't elite, but it's very solid. It only gave up three sacks in the first four games before the Green Bay catastrophe. The Detroit line can get the job done.
If Stafford can get back to that quick delivery (2.24 seconds) from early in the season, the line can keep the wolves at bay long enough for the Lions to move the ball down the field.
Lastly, the Browns offense might have had success in the preseason against the Lions, but that trend won't continue. Detroit held the Packers offense in check most of last week, and Weeden isn't Aaron Rodgers.
That's all a long way of saying that Cleveland won't jump out to a big lead. And that means the Lions won't be forced to throw constantly in a game of catch-up.
Therefore, when you consider all of the above, the Lions won't be giving up more than two sacks this week, regardless of Cleveland's almost four-sacks-a-game pace.