The Lions are riding a fine edge through their two game win streak. They have a combined margin for victory of five points in the last two weeks. Washington picked up a 27-20 win last week against the Eagles. Washington has the edge in overall offense this week, with the number five to Detroit’s number eighteen offense. The nation’s capital city also boasts the number 21 defense overall, while Detroit is 25th in the NFL.
Lions vs. Washington
The Lions come into the the game with the highest completion percentage, the fourth highest touchdown efficiency, and the fewest giveaways in the NFL since week ten of the 2015 season. The defense has been as bad as the offense has been good, ranking last in the NFL in both third down and red zone efficiency, as well as being 30th in the league in takeaways for the 2016 season. The Lions need to figure out how to get the opposing offense off the field without allowing points. Jim Bob Cooter needs to find a running game for the team to see more sustained success.
The Lions are now 11 points allowed from being 0-6, and 14 points scored from being 6-0. A slight nudge in either direction could be the difference between a wildcard playoff team and a top five pick. Detroit’s games have been nothing if not close, and this week’s tilt between the Lions vs. Washington should be no different.
The Quarterback Duel
I do not usually do this, as I hate the idea that the game comes down to the effort of only two players that are never actually playing against each other, but this week it is simply true. The Lions’ offense goes as far as Matthew Stafford can push it. While Washington’s rushing offense has been solid, their passing game is fifth in the NFL. Cousins has a trio of effective receivers, a solid pass-catching tight end, and a running game. Stafford sure does have one of those things and not the other. Neither defense is particularly good, so this should be a week where both quarterbacks put up some gaudy numbers for fantasy owners. I know Cousins will be my quarterback in any daily contests I enter unless his value has gone up greatly because of his competition.
Devin Taylor vs. Morgan Moses
Taylor started the season off with two great games. He was on pace for 12 sacks and over 100 tackles after week two. Unfortunately he has managed just two sacks and six tackles in the intervening four contests, a level of production that he needs to improve for the defense to find respectability for the Lions vs. Washington. The presence of Ezekiel Ansah should take some of the pressure off of Taylor. Moses played well enough last season that Washington made Brandon Scherff a guard permanently after drafting him with a top five pick in 2015.
No matter who is lining up at tight end for Washington, that player is better than the Lions’ coverage can handle. The Lions limited the Philadelphia tight ends in week five, which was the last time they played a deep group. With that said, the Eagles do not have the same firepower in the passing game at the wide receiver position that Washington does. The tight ends should figure heavily in this match up.
The Lions leading rusher is over 500 yards behind the NFL’s rushing leader after six games. Zach Zenner started with Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and Dwayne Washington all out last week. The results were a decent 58 yards on 14 carries for Zenner, but 25 of his yards came on two of those carries.The Lions need to find a way to get more consistent yardage and their best bet is Justin Forsett. Forsett is still more explosive than Zenner, and should be much more sure of his responsibilities this week. He needs to improve on his five carries for five yards if he wants to be around for long though. Bob Quinn has been ruthless in cutting veteran players who do not pan out.
Lions 45, Washington 32
Legitimately I would set the over/under on this game at 60 points. This is going to be a high scoring affair unless one team or the other decided to change their identity this week.