Detroit Is In Win-Now Mode Against Pittsburgh.
It’s week eight and it’s panic mode for everyone in Detroit. Starting off 2-0, and losing off a controversial play against Atlanta, then beating Minnesota, Detroit seemed different. Then injuries piled up and trouble came to town and Detroit fell to 3-3 going into the bye with major players banged up.
Coming off that bye, Detroit is getting healthy and getting star players returning 100% and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Detroit will have their hands full with a tough Pittsburgh Steelers team, will they be able to bounce back to 4-3, or will they stumble into a 3-4 record?
Stafford Should Look To Get Back To Himself
Matt Stafford’s season started off rough with his first throw being a pick-six against Arizona. The rest of that game and the next two games were good performances by the quarterback. Through the first three games, Stafford threw seven touchdowns and one interception.
He was noticeably hurt going into Minnesota and his next three games he would throw five touchdowns and three interceptions. He has been playing banged up with different injuries around his leg and with a bye to recuperate himself, he should be back to that way he was earlier this season.
The Steelers defense isn’t a joke though, they have gotten 24 sacks this season, along with seven interceptions. Stephon Tuitt will be out and while that is good news for the Lions offensive line, they will still be tested often.
Darius Slay Will Be Tested With Antonio Brown
The biggest storyline to watch on Sunday night will be the battle between Lions cornerback Darius Slay and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is the number one receiver in the NFL this season, and it isn’t even close. Brown has 52 catches for 765 yards and three touchdowns.
Besides Brown, the Steelers receivers don’t have many yards. The next leading receiver is Martavis Bryant, but he is already ruled out for Sunday after demanding a trade and going off on social media, so the next man up is JuJu Smith-Schuster with 27 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns.
Slay has been matched up with the opposing teams best wide receivers all season long. While he did well against Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Odell Beckham Jr., he had issues with Stefon Diggs and Kelvin Benjamin. He was adequate against Ted Ginn Jr. but kept Michael Thomas quiet. He has to do his best to limit Brown to get the least amount of catches possible. It won’t be easy, but if Slay can limit Brown, it could help the defense.
Jarrad Davis And Company Have To Stop Le’Veon Bell
The scary thing about the Steelers is that they don’t just have Antonio Brown, they also have Le’Veon Bell. Bell is doing well this season, getting 169 carries for 684 yards and four touchdowns. The good news is Detroit has been doing well in stopping running backs, only allowing 94.3 rushing yards per game.
Jarrad Davis and Tahir Whitehead will need to do their best to stop one of the best running backs in the NFL. Like Brown, it won’t be easy, but the Lions are one of the best teams in stopping the run this season. If the Lions can somehow limit Brown and stop Bell, their chances of winning increase dramatically.
That won’t happen though. Brown and Bell are too much for the Lions defense. Sure Glover Quin and Paul Worrilow will be back, but the Lions still don’t have an impressive pass rush that can get to Ben Roethlisberger. While Brown will get all the attention, that means Smith-Schuster should be open more and get big plays off the Lions secondary.
While the offense will have everyone back but Golladay and Robinson, that won’t be enough against the Steelers defense. Brian Mihalik will start at left tackle and with his struggles against the Saints, he could cause issues to Stafford’s blind side, something the team can’t afford.
Steelers beat Detroit 24-10.
If you would like to see a more in-depth game preview, check out Zac’s article.