Those two teams looked horrible. The Lions look better, even in a bye week.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I derived some sadistic pleasure in watching Bears QB Jay Cutler decomposing before my very eyes. Cutler was sacked four times, threw an NFL record four interceptions to DeAngelo Hall and fumbled once, at the goal line.
Great stuff, Jay! Kind of like watching an AFLAC commercial. You are the duck.
I didn’t have the stomach to look up Cutler’s passer rating.
It was so bad for Chicago that Hall’s four grabs would have ranked him as the fourth-best Bears receiver.
Then we had the Washington Redskins and QB Donovan McNabb. McNabb had three passes tipped at the line by Bears defensive tackles (hear that, Suh?)
One of those tipped balls turned into a pick-six.
McNabb went 17-for-32 and had two interceptions. The Redskins put the ball on the ground six times, losing only one, or the rout would have been on.
The Bears defense wasn’t the force that they seemed to be in their early season run. Julius Peppers, who chipped in with one of two sacks on McNabb, recorded only one other tackle.
Are we to assume then that the Redskins offensive line was dominating?
No, not at all. This is the time of year where Peppers enters his quiet phase. He will take a lot of plays off now, until his late season epiphany in early December. An annual event, like the changing of the seasons.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are coming off their timely bye week. It was a time of healing. The Lions will have all of their offensive starters on the field for the first time since Week 1.
It was also a time of healing for Lions fans. We could actually enjoy the games without the specter of another Lions loss fresh on our minds.
No angst. No frustration. No depression. A whole new season kind of feeling.
Now, the Lions team and fans are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2010 NFL regular season (part 2.0). As luck would have it, the Lions will host the Washington Redskins in this “new“ season.
The Redskins have a 4-3 record, and have equaled their victory total of last season. Progress is clearly being made in DC.
If you watched the Redskins in Chicago, you would be left with the sense that this is a game that the Lions expect to win. The Redskins will be playing their second straight road game in the NFC North.
Besides, my dog Major says “Book it.” He’s never disappointed as long as I have sufficient treats to keep him honest.
Lets look at the Washington Redskins, and how they will match up at Ford Field against a rejuvenated Detroit Lions team.
The Redskins offense will be without running back Clinton Portis, who’s career may be over after suffering a third-degree separation of his left groin muscle. They also have punter Josh Bidwell and wide receiver Mike Furrey (remember him?) on injured reserve.
The loss of Portis was a real blow. Enter Ryan Torain, who has taken the bulk of running snaps. Torain has piled up 381 yards on 82 carries for a 4.6 yard per carry average.
Now Torain may be the “Big Train”, but he is a big step down from the running backs that the Lions have failed to contain in previous games. After a steady dose of stud running backs (Forte, Peterson, Jackson, etc.), the Lions can catch their breath with Torain.
Torain by himself will not beat the Lions.
Donovan McNabb has some good weapons in the receiving corps. Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley are his primary targets, but expect to see Anthony Armstrong and Joey Galloway get some looks.
The offensive weapons that the Redskins are fielding are nothing close to Detroit’s arsenal of offensive weapons.
Protection-wise, the offensive line does a credible job. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams has struggled on pass protection and should be targeted by the Lions defensive line.
The interior pass protection had some problems with Chicago’s pass rush. I would expect to see the pressure up the middle intensified by Suh, Williams and Sammie Lee Hill.
The QB, Donovan McNabb, is ranked behind Detroit’s Shaun Hill in the official stats. He looks a lot like Hill on the field, too. McNabb piles up interceptions, sacks and fumbles faster than yardage.
Look for the Lions to keep McNabb under continuous pressure. The Lions will blitz early, and often.
The Redskins play a 3-4 base defense. They are solid up the middle with nose tackles Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth has actually been very solid of late in limited duty.
I never thought I’d say such a thing. Haynesworth? Solid?
The inside linebackers, London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh are the heart of the defense. They clog the middle of the field, play the run extremely well and take deep drops in coverage.
On the edges, we will see Brian Orakpo, an elite pass rusher. He is supplemented by Adam Carriker and Andre Carter.
Orakpo must be accounted for on every play. He’s that good.
In the secondary, the Lions will face one of the better sets of corner backs and safeties in the league.
Corner backs DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers are one of the best tandems in the NFL. They are coming off an outstanding performance in the win against the Bears.
To a lesser extent, safeties LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty are very good. Landry is an effective blitzer, and when stacked with Orakpo, can be dominating.
The Redskins love to bring pressure from the edges with blitz packages that augment coverage schemes. A great defense.
Perhaps the Achilles heel of the Redskin team. The loss of punter Josh Bidwell has meant a drop off in punt coverage. The Redskins routinely punted out of bounds way up field in the fear that Chicago’s Devin Hester would beat them.
Kickoff and punt coverage teams are a real concern for Washington.
When the Lions offense is on the field, look for more of the same short-to-intermediate pass routes. The Lions will need to get the ball out of Matt Stafford’s hands extremely fast. I expect WR Calvin Johnson to have a big game against the Smurfish Redskins secondary.
I expect to see Stafford rolling right in hopes of lessening the pressure from that great Redskins pass rush.
Look for the Lions to work the middle of the field with slants and post routes deep after some run action.
The running game is not likely to see much, if any, improvement as the Redskins will dare the Lions to beat them passing. They need not stack the box.
I hope that I’m wrong, and that Best goes off.
When the Lions defense is on the field, look for pressure, pressure and more pressure up front. The Redskins will use a variety of screens to counter the pressure, but without an elite running back, they will be pass happy.
The Lions will employ a nickel defense throughout the game. This gives the Lions some flexibility in their blitz packages, while disguising their coverage schemes.
The special teams will have to dominate if the Lions hope to pull away from a low scoring, stingy Redskins team.
Two sound defenses, but I see the Lions offense and special teams being the difference.
Unless, that is, the Lions continue their marked propensity for penalties.
I think that we will see the Lions win this one 24-17.
Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.