Where: Ford Field, Detroit.
When: Saturday, Aug. 27, 8 p.m. EST.
Watch: National TV—CBS New England: CBS WBZ-TV, Detroit: CBS WWJ-TV. Online at NFL.com (must pay $19.99 for full league-wide package), live look-ins on NFL Network; Game replay Sunday, Aug. 28, 2 a.m. EST.
Listen: New England: 98.5 The Sports Hub, Sirius 139. Detroit: 97.1 The Ticket, Sirius 92.
Tom Brady looked like a reigning MVP when he saw his first preseason action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. He played the entire first half and helped lead the team for a 28-0 lead in that time.
Almost all of the Patriots’ starters who missed the first match against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game in which they won 47-12, are now going to be playing heavy minutes against the Lions on Saturday night.
The Lions will also be giving big minutes to their starters as they look to continue to build rapport with Matt Stafford and his offense after he missed 13 games last season.
Fans believe that this could be the Lions’ year to finally get back to the playoffs, and are showing their support by selling out Ford Field for a preseason game. They are going to shower their club with support and are hoping to get a huge momentum boost by taking the Patriots down on Saturday.
The last time these two teams met was last Thanksgiving. The Lions were up 17-10 at the end of the first half but Tom Brady carried the Pats on his shoulders to a 45-24 win in the end.
If the Lions can play like they did in that first half, they have a real chance to pull an upset here.
Patriots Key Addition: Chad Ochocinco
The Pats really lacked a No. 1 receiver in their offense last season and still had one of the more prolific passing attacks in the NFL. They gave up on Randy Moss during their Week 4 bye and replaced him with Deion Branch. Branch is not the same caliber of receiver that Ocho can be, and he should be due for a huge season.
Lions Key Addition: Stephen Tulloch
Detroit has a great defensive line, but really lacked in the LB department. Adding Stephen Tulloch, who could be good for 100-plus tackles, to play behind Ndamukong Suh should pay off.
Patriots Biggest Loss: Ty Warren
Warren got injured after signing with the Broncos, but the Patriots should never have let him go there in the first place. He is a good pass rusher, which is exactly what the team needs this season.
Lions Biggest Loss: Mikel Leshoure
The Lions’ second-round draft pick is out for the season. He was expected to back Jahvid Best up and get a decent amount of carries doing such. Losing him leaves a lot on the injury-prone Best’s shoulders.
What They’re Saying:
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston has an interesting story about Ochocinco wanting to pay a fine. A fine for a hit that he personally was on the receiving end of. The Bucs’ Mason Foster leveled Ocho in the first quarter and was given a $20,000 fine from the NFL. Ocho tweeted that it was a ‘great’ hit and that he will personally pay the fine, since that’s the way the game is meant to be played. It will be interesting to see what Commissioner Goodell decides to do about this.
Tom Kowalski is saying that Titus Young is still looked upon as the third receiver despite being plagued with injuries this offseason. He is a rookie second-round draft pick out of Boise State and could contribute immediately from the slot.
Patriots Player to Watch: Stevan Ridley
Ridley has looked like an absolute beast in the first two preseason games. If he can keep up this pace against a monstrous Lions’ frontline, he will have to be considered by Bill Belichick as a regular member of the teams’ running back corps.
Lions Player to Watch: Ndamukong Suh
Suh is the key to the Lions’ defense and will need to play huge to give them a shot at winning this game. The Patriots’ biggest weakness last year was against a strong pass rush, so let’s see if Suh can exploit this.
Matchup to Watch: Lions Pass Rush vs. Patriots Offensive Line
Tom Brady will simply beat you if you give him too much time. He has proven time and time again that given time to throw, he will make the read and complete the pass. If the Lions can get pressure and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, the Patriots are a beatable team.
Patriots Key Position Battle: Backup Quarterback
The coveted position to back up Tom Brady is between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Hoyer has been in the system longer and knows more, but Mallett has more raw talent. Whoever has a better game in the second half this week should have the inside track to winning the job.
Lions Key Position Battle: Inside Linebacker
Stephen Tulloch is traditionally a MLB but was moved outside because of DeAndre Levy still being part of the team. He is trying to win his position back and have Levy shoved outside. They will be rotating the two, so look for a good fight to stay in the middle.
Key Storyline: Are Lions Ready for the Big Time?
If the Lions can pull a big upset off against the Patriots, it will prove that the team is ready to compete in the regular season. Beating a tough Pats team in the preseason is actually kind of a big deal for a team who has been as abysmal as the Lions. It will give them a ton of confidence going into the year.
Prediction: Patriots 27 Lions 20
The Lions will play this close but the Patriots starters will pull them ahead and their backups will finish the game off for them. Unless the Lions’ play their starters for an elongated time, they simply don’t have the depth to hang with New England.