I'm strangely optimistic about this one, despite yesterday's sapping near-death experience. I was shocked to see so many players did come out half stepping, but it was nice to see the team as a whole kick things into A gear for the final ~25 mins (reg + OT).
Downside - short week means not enough recovery time, especially after 5 quarters of football
Upside - winning gets some spring back in your step that losing saps out
Upside - Cody and Tate *should* join Sharpton and OD as a cavalry of sorts. The ILB corps looked good yesterday, and have a good rotation going.
We watched the pass rush/secondary tandem's worst showing since Green Bay, and possibly worse given it was Chad Henne murdering us. Sometimes you overlook an opponent and feel a little too good about what you've done. I'd like to believe that won't be an issue after yesterday. Detroit leads the league in passing yards a game, so they know they've got to step up.
Joseph's our key injury - can't afford him to be out or limited Thursday. If he's robbed of quickness, you can't risk putting him on Johnson.
Johnson's almost the whole show in their passing game: he's leading the league in receiving yards, and it's not even close. He's an unstoppable home run guy - 24 catches for 20+ yards, which is also leading the league with Demaryius Thomas (#2) nowhere close to catching him. The only weird thing is how he's been almost shut out of the end zone this year. When your team is #2 in total yards per game and #15 in PPG, something is wrong.
One obvious issue is Stafford's tendency to turn the ball over. Lions are among the worst in the league in give/take (-7) and Stafford has 10 picks so far. For most of yesterday, our pass rush was a neutered kitten. Part of that was an ineffective showing by Earl Mitchell, so hopefully Cody can return and beef things up. This would also be a wonderful time for Barwin and Reed (4.5 sacks combined on the year) to start contributing. Mercilus would be a welcome addition of energy as well (no impact at all yesterday in limited action).
The silver lining against this team is that Pettigrew is having a slightly down year compared to the last couple of seasons and has had only 4 games with 40+ yards. This is a team that banks on deep plays, which Wade's defense is specifically designed to disrupt. The Lion's aren't effective on the ground, making it a little easier to game plan for them. Calvin Johnson obviously gets a safety helping over the top every down.
That said, the secondary can't come out playing like we saw against Jacksonville. Pass rush has to give them some help, but they can't be undressed the way they were. When Detroit connects, it moves the chains - their top 5 receivers AVERAGE 10+ yards a game (Pettigrew slightly under at 9.5).
Detroit's a slightly above average defense. Not elite, but still tough with a stout front 4. We don't look to run up the middle a lot, and this wouldn't be the game to try and start. Keeping Suh the hell away from Schaub is an obvious concern, given that he's as dirty as it gets in this game. Durant and Tolluch are solid behind them. The secondary is good, but largely benefits from the defensive line collapsing pockets.
Overall, the formula against the Lions is to establish the run to step up the pass. Their front will punish you if you rely on pocket passing, so the boot would be your best friend (run away from Suh! Run!).
Ray of sunshine: the Lions have only 1 quality win this season (4 pt win over Seattle). Other 3 wins have been against basement dwellers: STL, JAX, PHI.
“There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.”