For both the Detroit Lions and the team’s fans, the regular season is finally here.
After an offseason filled with embarrassing headlines, the Lions will once again take the field with the NFL’s biggest chip on their shoulders.
When the Lions kick off their season at 1:05pm on Fox this Sunday, they must take on not only a very difficult schedule, but also the massive expectations put on them by Lions fans everywhere.
I’ve heard making the playoffs for the first time in over a decade generates some buzz. It is up to the Lions to take that buzz and ignore it completely.
With the schedule they face, Detroit must be fantastic to live up to all the hype surrounding the program. Some has been good, some bad, but no hype is good for a team focused on winning and even contending.
The schedule starts right here with the St. Louis Rams. Luckily for Detroit, they face the league’s worst team in their opening game, a game in which they will be without a suspended Mikel Leshoure. Jahvid Best is also sidelined with a serious injury, and I’d bet that safety Louis Delmas will not play this Sunday. CB Chris Houston also missed practice on Wednesday, which is worrisome for Detroit, as Delmas and Houston are the clear leaders of the secondary.
Even without these key playmakers, Detroit should win this game easily. I anticipate Ford Field will be anything but quiet when Rams QB Sam Bradford is under center,
which may rattle the young and struggling kid from Oklahoma. The Lions’ front four is fearsome, and has to step up and get to Bradford with the secondary as beat up as it is.
While the Rams are trying their best to make improvements on defense, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson will have no problem shredding a questionable Rams secondary. They are no doubt better with the acquisition of CB Cortland Finnegan, but one corner cannot stop a lethal Detroit passing attack.
Finnegan will be given the assignment of trying to slow Megatron down, but that is something that nobody was able to do last season. Even if Finnegan can stop Johnson, the arsenal of Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, and Tony Scheffler will be too much for St. Louis to stop.
Offensively, the Rams may be the league’s laughingstock. At just 283 yards per game last season, the Rams ranked second to last in total offense. While Detroit’s defense was hardly stellar, they should have the personnel to hold the Rams to just a handful of points.
I also expect the Lions’ special teams unit to make a mark on this game. A unit that looked strong this preseason, the special teams guys will surely want to start the regular season the right way.
The best thing the Lions can do in week one is to come out and really control this game start to finish. Coach Jim Schwartz will have his players ready, this I know. Whether or not the players will respond or not is in their hands.
Should the Lions come out ready to dominate, I have no reason to believe they won’t.
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