When you look at this game, particularly on the surface, this may look like a potential thrashing in the making. After all, if you consider the records of these two teams (N.Y. Jets 5-2, DET. Lions 2-5), the teams that the Jets have beaten (the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Vikings and Broncos) and the common foes of these two teams (the Packers and the Vikings), it does look like Detroit could get smoked.
But Detroit is coming on and as a Lions Fan, I think it is time to look much deeper into this matchup and see what the numbers say about these two Week 9 opponents.
For example, I personally find it interesting that the Detroit Lions—despite an ongoing propensity for stupid penalties and an ever-stagnant rushing attack—still actually have more first downs, a higher third-down and fourth-down conversion ratio and have been able to execute more offensive plays through the first seven games of the season than the New York Jets.
What if I also told you that Matt Stafford (limited playing time acknowledged) has a higher completion percentage, a higher TD percentage, a lower interception percentage and a higher passer rating than Mark Sanchez?
That is not to say that all is well with Detroit's offensive output.
Detroit admittedly has been lacking in the running game, although Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best started to show some promise using a blended running attack this past week against the Redskins. Detroit will need to run the ball more efficiently and consistently to win this game.
Did you know that Detroit's special teams are also performing better than New York's in net yardage for the season? It's true! Detroit's average punt is a mere .4 yards shorter than New York's but the Lions average 3.5 yards more than the Jets in punt returns; while the Jet's also allow their opponents another three yards in punt returns yardage (a net of +6.1 for Detroit).
While Jason Hanson doesn't kick the ball as deep as he once did, I'll take him against Nick Folk in any kickoff and field goal contest, particularly this Sunday. The kick return game is fairly close when we compare these two teams but so far the breakaway threat belongs to Detroit's Stefan Logan.
On the defensive side of the ball, this is a new Detroit Lions team. Detroit's defensive front four has been impressive and they continue to improve week by week. Suh, Vanden Bosch, Williams, Avril and company look very capable of stopping the Jets ground game.
Suh has been phenomenal and is getting recognition weekly. Williams, Avril and Vanden Bosch, whose contributions to Suh's play have been willingly acknowledged, have played a significant role in Suh's success. The Lions win the sack comparison with 23 compared to the Jets' 15.
The surprising aspect of Detroit's defense this year has been the fairly capable play of what started out as a very suspect defensive backfield. True, much work remains but Detroit appears as if this aspect of their game is also on the mend. In fact, the Lions actually win this comparison with the Jets as well with eight interceptions compared to the Jets' five.
Finally, the Detroit home crowd will be a factor. Crowd noise (something that has been absent from Ford Field since its inauguration) has found its way back to the Detroit Lions stadium. This is a new team—expect a Lions Win! This one will be close, but the Lions will persevere.
Mark it down—Lions 24 Jets 17.