The Detroit Lions are coming off a bye week as they take on the Washington Redskins this weekend at Ford Field. For the first time all season, the Lions are healthy as starting QB Matthew Stafford and MLB DeAndre Levy are back from injuries. Even RB Jahvid Best is healthy after suffering a turf toe injury and was limited the past couple of games. The Lions are fresh and ready to take on the Redskins in only their 3rd home game of the season.
While the Lions were enjoying their bye week, the Bears and Vikings lost last weekend opening the door for the Lions. With a favorable schedule since they play 6 out of their last 10 games at home, the Lions know this is their last chance to get back into the playoff hunt. Now usually 1-5 teams are talking about next year’s draft, but since no one in the NFC North division is running away with the division, the Lions have a slim chance. The Packers are in first place, but have been decimated with injuries on defense side of the ball and do not have a reliable rushing attack. If the Lions win on Sunday and Vikings lose to the Patriots, the Lions will be tied with the soap opera like Vikings.
The Redskins come into Sunday’s game with a respectable 4-3 record, 1 game behind the first place Giants. Redskins QB Donovan McNabb is struggling somewhat as he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns as he is still adjusting to his new surrounding. He’s among the NFC’s lowest-rated passers (76.0), but the Redskins have won three of four. A big reason they’re in that position is unheralded RB Ryan Torain playing well in place of the injured Clinton Portis. Torain has rushed for 335 yards and three TDs in four games this month, posting 100-yard games the last two weeks. Torain faces a Detroit defense which has allowed a 100-yard rusher in four of the last five contests.
Stafford faces the team against which he posted his first NFL victory. He threw for 241 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 19-14 home win over the Redskins on Sept. 27, 2009. The Lions offense did not miss a beat while Stafford was injured as they currently have the 7th best offense in the NFL. That all starts with WR Calvin Johnson who has 15 catches for 286 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games.
The Lions defense has played well the last 2.5 games as they have only surrendered 34 points in which for the Lions is a sense of accomplishment. The defense line led by 2010 1st round draft pick Ndamukong Suh is the strongest unit of the team, while the secondary has been the weakest. But that has started to change as CBs Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith are becoming more and more comfortable with Gunther Cunningham’s defense scheme.
Washington’s defense played well last week in their win against the Bears as they forced 5 turnovers and sacked Bears QB Jay Cutler 4 times. Stafford has not played since Week 1 so it will be interesting to see how rusty he will be during the first few series. But with all the offense weapons at his disposal, the Lions should be able to put up some points. With Lions defense capable of surrendering points at times, the game most likely will come down to Lions K Jason Hanson. With Stafford back, the fans might finally get to see the future of the Lions with all the offense weapons healthy.
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Written by Bob Ballard