The Lions pay a visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium for a game against the winless Buffalo Bills next Sunday. The Lions are equally inept on the road.
The Bills, like the Lions, are another team in a rebuilding process, and have lost their last three games by three points each.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
The Lions come to Buffalo without their franchise QB Matthew Stafford or reliable kicker Jason Hanson.
The Lions backup QB Shaun Hill is one month removed from having surgery to repair a broken arm. His non-throwing arm, thank goodness.
The Lions are a banged-up, demoralized team after giving a game to the New York Jets.
The Bills, like the Lions, feel that they are on the cusp of winning and have given new head coach Chan Gailey excellent effort on both sides of the ball.
Chan Gailey will not hesitate to stick his finger into the face of a player on the sidelines during a game. Much like Mike Singletary does in San Fransisco.
The difference between Gailey and Singletary is that players respect Gailey.
Gailey coaches hard and is an excellent teacher. He had no difficulty in ridding the Bills of Marshawn Lynch. He also benched, then released starting QB Trent Edwards in Week 3.
The Bills have a paucity of talent, but play a disciplined brand of football.
There is much speculation that the Bills, a small-market team, might move to Toronto. The evidence suggests that this will not happen.
First, the Bills Canadian suitors have a stadium that seats 50,000 fans. The NFL has mandated a minimum of 65,000 seats in an NFL stadium.
Second, Toronto is not a sports crazy town, especially where the NFL is concerned. The Bills did not sell out the game in Toronto against the Chicago Bears.
For the time being, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo will be the Bills home.
Ralph Wilson, the 92-year-old owner of the Bills has a very colorful history in the NFL and with Detroit.
Wilson, who makes his home in Detroit, was a minority owner of the Detroit Lions. Wilson, who was getting the short end of the profits, was approached by LaMarr Hunt, who offered Wilson an AFL franchise in 1960.
The Pete Rozelle led NFL went after Wilson’s pocketbook and his integrity. The NFL fined Wilson and blackballed him from attending games for a team that he held ownership in.
Wilson retaliated by filing suit in federal court. Ultimately, a settlement was reached, but it cost the Ford family and the NFL plenty.
Back to reality. Let’s take a peek at the upcoming Lions versus Bills matchup.
The Bills have been maturing on offense. Head coach Chan Gailey came on board and promptly dumped Marshawn Lynch, who was a cancer in the locker room.
The Bills then drafted RB C.J. Spiller, who has had an immediate impact upon the team. Spiller has been dinged up a bit, but his presence has given Bills fans reason for optimism.
Spiller is an adequate rusher and has a kick return for a TD.
Entering the season, the Bills started Trent Edwards at quarterback. After two losses, head coach Chan Gailey benched Edwards, and inserted Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter.
Edwards squeaked like one of my dog’s toys and was promptly released.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good QB. He’s thrown for 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and has been sacked 12 times. He sports an 85.8 passer rating.
Fitzpatrick has rushed 24 times, which would suggest that he has seriously happy feet.
Fitzpatrick plays behind a decent offensive line, and has a nice TE, David Martin. Martin was not targeted once during the Bears game and was not necessarily kept in the backfield in max-protect schemes.
The Lions front four will give the Bills the ride of their lives. Look for those sack stats to be fattened, and Fitzpatrick to pile up rushing yards while escaping the pass rush.
Fitzpatrick threw 51 passes last week against the Bears. Look for more of the same this week. While the Bills will attempt to run the rock, the Lions have suddenly stiffened in their run defense.
The majority of the Bills scoring comes from the wide-outs. WR Stephen Johnson has six touchdowns, and WR Lee Evans has four.
The Bills are 26th in scoring less than 19 points per game. The Lions have amassed 24 sacks and have recorded nine interceptions.
The Lions run defense (ranked 27th) will need to stop the Bills on the ground and force Fitzpatrick to hold the ball.
The air will be filled with footballs.
The Lions will face another 3-4 defense. Without Matt Stafford, Shaun Hill (unless it’s an emergency) and Jason Hanson.
Lions QB Drew Stanton will face a porous Bills defense who is even worse at defending against the run than the Lions are.
Now, that’s incredible!
The Lions offensive line, even while texting, should do their expected average job. Stupid penalties notwithstanding, that is.
My macabre sense of humor notes that the Lions offensive line loses yards at a greater pace than the Lions running backs can gain them.
Sad, but true.
The majority of the defensive pressure will come from LDE Marcus Stroud (24 tackles and two sacks), NT Kyle Williams (43 tackles and three sacks) and RDE Dwan Edwards (46 tackles and one sack).
Not very intimidating when you consider the elite defenses that the Lions have faced lately.
The Lions should break out of their rushing funk, as the Bills are susceptible to the run. In fact, given the QB situation, running the ball seems to be in the best interests of the Lions.
The Lions backup QB might be WR(?) Derrick Williams.
The Lions have all the weapons needed to win, but must trust Drew Stanton to find them. I know, that’s a stretch, but it is what it is.
The Lions had better find their Mojo in Buffalo. It’s their last best chance for a victory.
Oops, I forgot the Cowboys. Never mind.
The Lions special teams really has to step it up. There can be no doubt that Stephan Logan will answer the bell. Logan has been a great addition to this Lions team.
The Bills like to use rookie phenom C.J. Spiller on the return team. He’s scored a TD on a kick return.
Stan Kwan, the exiled former Lions special teams coordinator, will be there as the newly minted assistant coach on the Bills special teams.
How’s that working for you, Chan?
The Lions main concern is the absence of kicker Jason Hanson. The Lions will look at some kickers this week, according to head coach Jim Schwartz.
Can I apply? I mean I kicked the dog 50 yards after the Jets game. I was wide right, but the junkyard poodle is not very aerodynamic, and there was a stiff wind.
This game has me scared. Real scared. Immodium scared. Lighting votive candles in church scared.
“Honey, where was that church?”
The winless Bills against the road winless warriors from Detroit.
Something has to give.
I would be remiss, if I didn’t remind everyone that this is the 235th birthday of my beloved United States Marine Corps. Kindly remember them in your prayers.
Freedom isn’t free, but the Marines will gladly pay your share.
Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.