Cleveland Meets Detroit in The Toilet Bowl
Save the Oakland Raiders, this is a meeting of currently the two most anemic franchises in the NFL—maybe in all of professional sports.
Clevelanders, do you think you have it bad? Try these numbers on for size:
Since 1995, the Detroit Lions have been to one playoff game.
The Lions have a grand total of one playoff win since 1957. That’s right! 1957!
They now have lost 31 out of their last 33 games.
The Lions have played above .500 just 15 times in the last 52 years. To put that into perspective, the Browns have eclipsed that total 26 times in the same time period.
Ineptitude has not been solely reserved for the Browns franchise.
If misery loves company, then Detroit and Cleveland fans should form their own Facebook group.
Like many teams before them, the Lions guessed that they could turn their fortunes around by drafting a quarterback in the first round. But they have quickly found out that despite Matthew Stafford’s considerable skills, they are still a long ways away from respectability.
While their offense has managed to put some points on the board, the team has surrendered a league worst 264 points.
When the bottom feeder offense meets the bottom feeder defense this weekend, something has to give.
On offense, the Lions do possess one of the NFL’s best weapons in wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Unfortunately, he has missed all or part of four games because of injury.
Last week, Johnson played his first full game since week four against the Vikings and did catch eight passes for 84 yards. At 6’5”, 236 pounds, he can run by, through, or jump over nearly every cornerback in the National Football League.
With Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, and rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Stafford isn’t afraid to air the ball out. The results have been mixed, however, as he currently has a 1:2 touchdown to interception ratio.
A big disappointment has been running back Kevin Smith who looked like he was turning the corner as a pro last season. He is averaging only 51.5 yards per game on a paltry 3.4 yards per carry.
Like the Browns, the Lions have issues on the right side of their offensive line along with the left guard slot. However, center Dominic Raiola and left tackle Jeff Backus are solid.
On the defensive side of the ball the Lions are a mess. In their last game against the Vikings, the team gave up ten plays of 20 yards or more.
Four different safeties are either injured or playing hurt. The Lions may have to resort to starting benched cornerback Anthony Henry at one of the two spots.
The Lions have had to sign eight different defensive backs since the start of the season because of poor play or injuries.
Outside linebacker Ernie Sims, who is a tackling machine when healthy, will miss the Cleveland game with a hamstring injury.
Detroit’s front four generate little to no pass rush and do an even poorer job stopping the run. The team is pining for the days when they could rely on current-Brown, Shawn Rogers to control the line of scrimmage.
Left outside linebacker Julian Peterson is the lone play-maker the team has on defense, and even he has struggled because the defensive lineman cannot keep him clean to make plays.
Former Steeler, Larry Foote has put up big tackle numbers at middle linebacker, but he has been unable to create turnovers like he did with Pittsburgh.
This Lions team may be the Cleveland Browns last hope of garnering a second victory (and vice versa).
I do look for the Browns to finally put the ball in the end zone this week. And if the Browns defense plays as well as it did against the Ravens on Monday night, that might be enough to finally put one in the win column.
Final Prediction: Cleveland Browns 17 – Detroit Lions 14
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