The Detroit Lions (6-3) go for their third straight road win when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) this Sunday.
The Lions have not won in Pittsburgh since November 13, 1955. These are not the Steelers of old, allowing 55 points to the Patriots just two weeks ago; however, they have won their last two home games.
This matchup pits a prolific aerial attack against a top-notch pass defense. Stafford ranks fourth among all quarterbacks with 2,836 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns. Troy Polamalu and the Steelers secondary is holding opponents to 201.3 passing yards per game, also fourth-best in the NFL.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan may lean heavily on his 1-2 punch up the middle. Running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell picked up 146 rushing yards last week in Chicago. The Steelers 3-4 scheme is paper-thin up the middle ranking 29th against the run.
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are licking their chops for this game. They face an inexperienced and banged-up offensive line that has allowed 36 sacks on the year, tied for second-most in the NFL.
With center Maurkice Pouncey out for the season the only talent remaining on this line is former-first rounder David DeCastro. The struggling, second-year guard was a guy many Lions fans hoped for on draft day. Instead Detroit took offensive tackle Riley Reiff, the much better choice in retrospect.
Despite dealing with a wretched line, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 2,534 yards. He needs to take advantage of the 27th-ranked Lions pass defense to give the Steelers any shot in this game.
Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State will have his hands full with a run defense that is heating up. Last week the Leos held running back Matte Forte was held to 33 rushing yards on 17 carries. Pro Football Focus graded Stephen Tulloch’s performance the best of any middle linebacker all season.
The Lions enter Heinz Field relatively healthy, but will likely still be without Nate Burleson and Dwight Bentley. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah might miss another game as well. The rookie is questionable with an ankle injury.
Former-Wolverine linebacker LaMarr Woodley could be a huge blow for the Steel defense. He is doubtful with a calf injury.
The Steelers offensive line is just too weak to keep Pittsburgh in this game. Roethlisberger will be able to get off quick slants and maybe take some shots down field, but Bell will be on his back all day.
The Lions, on the other hand, will have no problem gutting the Steelers run defense. Bush is going to go off.
Lions win 30-17