I know, I know, I know...
The Detroit Lions got lucky as they barely whimpered past the Green Bay Packers last week, and more importantly:
- They demonstrated absolutely no offensive firepower with Drew (Sparty On) Stanton at the helm;
- They lost cornerback Brandon McDonald (broken forearm) for the season; and,
- Once more they will be relying on a group of unwanted "stand-ins" to bring home a victory, so why is it that anyone should believe that the Detroit Lions will prevail this week?
Stay tuned, Detroit Lions faithful, because there are actually three good reasons why this one is in the bag.
Anyone who watches football on Sunday will be able to tell you that Drew Stanton will never be a legitimate NFL starter; however, the man is a GAMER, and he will BRING IT ALL to the party (just ask Calvin Johnson...).
While his 56.1 percent completion rate and average of 6.4 yards per completion leave much to be desired, this week's competition will bring very similar numbers to the battle (Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman's season to date numbers are 58.5 percent and 6.9 yards). On paper, these two quarterbacks also demonstrate very similar rushing capability (look it up).
The key difference between these two quarterbacks admittedly lies in their respective touchdown to interception ratio, which Freeman wins hands down. So where is the optimism in this comparison, you ask? The answer lies in the defensive scheme of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Consider this: Tampa employs what they are now calling the Tampa 2.1—a defensive scheme that calls for plenty of blitzing by the linebackers, more press coverage by the cornerbacks and more odd-man fronts by the Tampa Bay linemen. This scheme should not be totally unfamiliar to Lions fans, Lions players and most importantly to Drew Stanton.
You will recall that just a few weeks back the Lions played against a team that employs a very similar scheme (i.e. the Chicago Bears), and you should recall that Stanton had what was arguably his best professional outing—completing 16 of 24 passes (66.67 percent) for 178 yards and a TD.
He also ran for another score in that game, which (absent another unwarranted officials' error on a penalty call involving who has become the NFL's Most Wanted Man in Ndamukong Suh) would have resulted in Detroit's second win of the season against the Bears (oh well enough, sour grapes).
The point is that you can expect Detroit to employ a similar game plan, one that will utilize short timing throws that are within the range of Stanton's accuracy (every once in a while lofting a deep one to Calvin). In the process I expect Detroit will not only be able to move the ball, but also score on this re-engineered Buccaneers defense.
Now I know what you are thinking: "Detroit's defense is literally on its last legs with injuries across the board." However, if Detroit can score, this game is winnable, and I believe that Detroit will find a way to score.
While the Detroit Lions defense has been one of the more injury-prone units in the league this year, the Buccaneers are attempting to provide the Lions with good company. Tampa Bay has lost six starters from both sides of the ball over the past three weeks. Like the Lions, they don't have the kind of depth that will allow them to play with the same swashbuckling style that they would like to display.
With DT Gerald McCoy, LB Quincy Black, center Jeff Faine and CB Aqib Talib all on injured reserve, and with DE Tim Crowder questionable for Sunday, Tampa Bay will have to play this game with a number of new deckhands. Besides, when it comes down to substitutes and stand-ins, who is going to second-guess Detroit's No. 2s and 3s after last week?
This is lame, but it's also true:
Detroit is due for some good luck. Besides the injuries on both sides of the ball, every call this season has seemed to go against Detroit. They will break their road game losing streak this week in Tampa Bay—call it a hunch.