Matt and Zac Snyder of Bleacher Report and mittensportsreport.com break down this week's Detroit Lions football matchup.
When the Lions have the ball...
Detroit's passing attack vs. Cleveland's defensive backs
Zac says: The Cleveland defense has recorded a league low four interceptions on the year. Unfortunately, Matthew Stafford has thrown a pick in five of seven games this year, including five against Seattle just two weeks ago. Calvin Johnson seems to be back in the flow of the offense with his eight catches in Minnesota last week, although he appeared disinterested at times. Hopefully playing a beatable opponent will add a little pep into the offense. The Lions need the added dimension Brandon Pettigrew brings to the offense. His two catch follow up to his seven catch performance needs to be straightened out to give the passing game balance. This week could be a good opportunity for the Lions to showcase their aerial talents. Advantage: Lions
Matt says: The Lions passing game has been inconsistent this year, but they should be able to get going against the poor Browns' pass defense. Matt Stafford will look to get the ball to Calvin Johnson early and often to keep him involved in the game. If the Detroit offensive line can give Stafford any sort of time, the Lions can be successful through the air. Advantage: Lions
Detroit's running game vs. Cleveland's front seven Zac says: Kevin Smith needs to run with authority this week. Former Lion Shaun Rogers is a mountain of a man in the middle of the Browns defensive line and will need to be contained. Lions fans know the kind of impact he can have on a game, although they also know he can disappear for games at a time as well. The nature of many Lions games this year has forced the offense to abandon the running game. If the Lions can establish the run early and keep the Browns offense down, then Kevin Smith may hit the 100 yard mark for the second time this season. Advantage: Even
Matt says: Cleveland has given up 4.7 yards per carry this season, so the Lions running game may be able to carry the team. A healthy mix of Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris and dashes Aaron Brown could keep the Browns defense on their heels. It's gonna be up to the Detroit offensive line to control the line of scrimmage. Advantage: Lions
When the Browns have the ball...
Cleveland's passing attack vs. Detroit's defensive backs
Zac says: To say Brady Quinn has been less than effective as a starter would be understating the situation. The Cleveland offense is one of the league's worst in recent memory as shown in their 8.7 points per game average. Browns quarterbacks have thrown just three touchdown passes and their top receiver, Braylon Edwards, was traded away to the New York Jets earlier this year. Rookie Mohamed Massaquoi leads the team in receiving yards while former Lion Mike Furrey lead the team with 21 receptions. Watching the league's worst passing offense against the league's worst passing defense could be ugly. Advantage: Even
Matt says: It's hard to know what will happen when strength meets strength, but when weakness meets weakness, it's even harder to guess. Louis Delmas' tooth is feeling better, and his return to the banged up secondary will be nice, to say the least. Advantage: Lions
Cleveland's running game vs. Detroit's front seven
Zac says: Jamal Lewis is clearly not the back he once was but this match up still presents a few concerns for me. Lewis is a big strong back that requires strong tackling to bring down. Lions fans know how good of a tackling team this has historically been (NOT!). I expect the Lions secondary to play an important role in run support as the defense cheats off the Browns' weak passing game. Advantage: Even
Matt says: The Lions run defense is ranked 19th in the NFL in yards allowed per game, but they've shown an ability to stop the run for stretches of time. The Browns, on the other hand, rank 26th in rushing average. The Detroit front seven need to take away the run early to force Quinn and the Browns to put the ball in the air in long yardage situations. Advantage: Lions
Zac (7-2) says: I think the Lions learned a lot from their home loss against the previously win-less St. Louis Rams. The Lions still aren't good enough to take even the worst teams lightly so I expect a focused effort on Sunday. The Lions have the added education of their preseason stomping at the hands of these very same Cleveland Browns. I know it was just the preseason but that experience has to be near the front of the players' minds this week. Detroit 20, Cleveland 12
Matt (7-0) says: It's not really a riveting matchup this week, but it's a game that could go either way. Both teams are at the bottom of the league in many statistical categories (including W-L), so it may be an "exciting" game from standpoint that it's a fairly even matchup. I know i'll be glued to my couch to see how this one plays out. Detoit 9, Cleveland 3